Return Of The Vaudois, And Of Their Re-Establishment In Their Own Country, Against The United Forces Of The French King And The Duke Of Savoy.
CHAPTER - 1
Account of their kind reception in the Protestant Cantons, after their removal from Geneva; of their great uneasiness in Switzerland, though so kindly treated there, because of their banishment from their paternal inheritance; of their two unsuccessful attempts to return; of the umbrage taken thereat by the Duke of Savoy, and the persuasions and endeavors thereupon of Messieurs de Zurich and Bern, to transplant them into Wirtemburg, Brandenburgh, and the Palatinate; of King William’s favorable sentiments to them, that for the preservation of their Churches, they should keep in a body to be ready for a return; and of the incidents which fell out favoring the same; namely, their being driven out of the Palatinate, the Duke of Savoy’s drawing off his Troops against the Mondovians, and our happy Revolution.
THE history which I propose to write, is so admirable in all its circumstances, that a naked account of the events contained therein will be enough, without the embellishment of art, to satisfy the reader; and as for the fidelity of the performance, it may suffice that the whole narration shall be founded upon the memoirs of those who have had the principal direction of the affairs of the Vaudois.
We have already seen in the latter end of the preceding book with what Christian hospitality the remainder of the poor Vaudois were entertained at Geneva, that sure asylum of afflicted protestants. Let us now follow them a little into the country of the evangelic cantons, where, being all arrived, in February, 1687, they found those as fathers whom they had had for deliverers; and were for the most part dispersed in the towns and villages of the canton of their excellencies of Bern; where they would have had good reason to be satisfied with their condition, if the desire of returning into their own country had not incessantly agitated their spirits.
In effect, not valuing their life, if they could not spend it where they had received it, they resolved to return thither whatsoever it cost them. In order to which they make three attempts; and though none but the last did succeed, however I shall in my way speak a word or two of the two former, which had like to have deprived them of the means and the hopes of bringing it about.
As for the first attempt, as it was made at a venture, without leaders, almost without arms, without imparting it to those who had the care of their conduct, tumultuously, and without having taken the measures necessary for such an enterprise, one must not wonder if their design miscarried at Lausanne; when the bailiff of that town having hindered them from embarking at Ouchi, ordered them, in the behalf of their excellencies of Bern, every one to retire to his own home.
If this first attempt passed without having made much noise, it was not so with the second; for this having been concerted with prudence, it carried them much farther. The first thing these good people did, was to send three men to view the country. These three, who were natives, the first of the valley of St. Martin, the second of that of Queyras, and the third of that of Cluson or Prajelas, had orders not only to discover the byways, to observe the routes through the highest mountains, in order to pass the rivers at their heads, but also to do their utmost to engage those who were still about their valleys, to bake them bread against their arrival, and to keep it privately for them in the places which they agreed upon. And it is worth taking notice, that in these valleys they almost always bake bread as hard as sea-biscuit, by which means it will keep a long time.
These three travelers were successful enough in going, but were not so in returning; for because they did not take the high road, two of them were looked upon and taken for robbers, in the wilds of the Tarantaise. In short, they arrested them, and being asked why they did not keep the ordinary routes, they answered, that dealing in lace, and knowing it was made in the country, they went thus from one place to another to buy it. Although this answer appeared plausible enough, they did not however fail to search them: they found upon them some sheets of blue paper, which suggested some suspicion, and therefore they held them to the fire, to see if they could not discover some writing which would render them criminals; but nothing appearing, they bethought themselves at length to offer them lace, to see if they understood that sort of merchandise wherein they pretended to deal. This little artifice had like to have ruined them; for he who was a native of Prajelas, having offered six crowns for a piece which was worth but three, the governor and the inhabitants who were present, strengthening themselves thereby in the suspicion of their being rather spies than merchants, took their money and threw them into prison. Being afterwards examined, according to all the forms of justice, they persisted in their first declaration; and he of Queyras, who had sold lace in Languedoc, having said that he could give a good account of the places of his province, and amongst others, of Montpellier and of Lunel, as having trafficked there, they brought a man of the same profession, and who had often been in the same Farts;especially at Lunel. This man confessed that all that the prisoner said was true; so they were released at the end of eight days, but without having their money restored, which amounted to ten crowns.
The report which these three men made, being favorable to the design of the Vaudois, both with relation to their country’s being inhabited by strangers, and the possibility of returning there by certain ways, which they believed till then impracticable, induced their directors to hold a council, where a resolution was taken of making a second attempt. And being met together to do it by the country of Vallais, and by the mountain of St. Bernard, the rendezvous was made in the plain of Bex, a village on the borders of the canton of Bern, and a little league from St. Maurice, a small village of that valley.
They pretended to repair to the rendezvous without being discovered in their design; but although they marched by night, and by divers ways, they could not however conceal their march from their excellencies of Zurich and of Bern, no more than from the city of Geneva, where their enterprise was discovered by the desertion of sixty Vaudois, who served in the garrison, and who were retired to the country of Vaud; there is also reason to believe that the mutual advices which these three cities gave one another, concerning the new project of the Vaudois, were the cause that they received not in time a vessel which they had taken some days before to carry them some arms near Villeneuve, a small town situated at the end of the lake of Geneva, very near the valley. The rumor of this new enterprise being then spread abroad, the Savoyards and the Valestans fired their beacons, put themselves in a posture of defense, and above all had a good guard at the bridge of St. Maurice, over which they must necessarily pass, unless they would cross the Rhone beneath, as also they would have done, if it had been possible for them to have the necessary vessels.
During the time then that these poor people, who composed but a troop of 600 or 700 men, were thinking what they should do in a conjuncture which was already unhappy enough for them, Monsieur Frederic Torman, bailiff, and governor of Aigle, repairing to Bex, which is in his jurisdiction, caused them to assemble in the temple, where he made them a very edifying discourse; for after having bespoke them with tears in his eyes, and exhorted them to patience, telling them that God would remember the poor Vaudois, and that approving and favoring the zeal which they showed for re-establishing religion, where it had never been extinguished, he would infallibly one time bring them back into their country; he dexterously made them sensible that it would be rashness and even folly, to persist in an enterprise which was already noised abroad, and whereof the consequences could not but be most fatal to them: having thus a little revived their spirits, and M. Arnaud their pastor and chief of the expedition, having completed it, by expounding to them this short verse of the twelfth chapter of St. Luke, “Fear not little flock,” and making them understand that God had his time, this generous bailiff and governor, not only conducted them to Aigle, where he caused bread to be distributed among them, and provided them the most convenient lodgings in the town, taking home the principal officers, and particularly the said sieur Arnaud, but also for a farther proof of his humanity, he sent them two hundred crowns to assist the retreat of those who inhabited the borders of Switzerland. All these humanities, and all these acts of kindness, made them more lively resent the cruelty of the inhabitants of Vevay; who by order of the council of the town, not content with not receiving them, refused even to lodge them in the neighborhood, and forbid, upon pain of rigorous punishments, the supplying them victuals; as they heard by a widow woman, who, maugre their prohibitions, and at the peril of seeing her house razed, did not cease to bring them pro. visions into the meadow, where they lay encamped. Although this kind of inhumanity of Mesieurs de Vevay was but in obedience to a superior order, wherein their politics and reasons of state had no other end but to make the Vaudois, finding themselves thus ill treated, remove themselves the sooner from their frontiers; it would however be difficult to dissuade some from believing that heaven has punished them for it by the fire, which some time after devoured almost all this town, without having damaged the house of this poor charitable widow, although it was enclosed amidst those which were consumed.
The disappointment of this second enterprise, which was made in June, 1658, was doubly prejudicial to the Vaudois: for the Duke of Savoy, having thereby discovered their intentions, and knowing what they could be capable of executing, when they should set themselves about it in good earnest, did not content himself with the guards which the officers of his militia had caused to be placed in all the routes, and principally about Geneva, as at St. Julien, a. Lancy, at Tremblieres, and at Chene, as also at Belle-Rive, and particularly in all the places which belong to him upon the eastern shore of the lake; but he also sent into the Chablais, two regiments of infantry, which made about 2000 men. These regiments were commanded by two persons of quality and merit, the Count de Bernex, and the Marquis de Caudree. They were followed by some dragoons, which having given umbrage to the city of Geneva, that republic also reenforced its garrison. The second inconvenience which happened to the Vaudois from their second enterprise, was, that their prince having made a great complaint to the magistrates of Bern, accusing them of breach of faith, and of having favored the project of this irruption into his estates, they were so much offended with a reproach so contrary to the honor and the fidelity wherewith they observe their treaties and their alliances, that they began to look upon the Vaudois with an evil eye; and they thought of removing them from their frontiers, thereby to take away from the Duke of Savoy all suspicion of intelligence. The magistrates of Zurich also conceiving the like indignation against them, called together at Arau an assembly of the evangelic cantons: they sent there for the most considerable of the Vaudois, namely, two of those who were refugees in the canton of Bern, and two of those of the canton of Basle, as many of that of Schaffhausen, and one of those of. St. Gall and Neufchatel. It was in this assembly where they declared to them they would no longer entertain them, and ordered them to retire from the cantons, and places where they dwelt. And as, for two months past since their abortive enterprise, they had not ceased giving them wherewith to subsist, just as before, and that likewise their excellencies of Bern had offered them the island which is upon the lake of Juerdun and of Morat, to inhabit there, and cultivate it; so they were not a little surprised to understand an order which prescribed them to depart the country. It was proposed to them to go into Brandenburg, but they excused themselves, representing the great distance. But as this excuse discovered to the gentlemen of Bern, that they had always their country at heart; these gentlemen, to conquer an obstinacy which they judged dangerous, commanded those who were in their canton to depart in a prefixed time. They then obeyed, and having taken their route through the capital of Bern, they had however the satisfaction of discovering there, that the severe manner wherewith they were treated, was but a maxim of state policy: for besides the great caresses which they there met with, the secretary of the town distributed money among them, when they embarked themselves upon the Aar, to pass into the countries of the cantons of Zurich and Schaffhausen, and afterwards farther when occasion should offer.
The country of Wirtemburg, which was not far from the places where they had made them go, seemed to suit them very well with respect to the soil, which is very fruitful, as well in pastures, as vineyard-plots. They deputed three persons from among them, who, making their address to Monseigneur the Duke Frederic Charles, at that time administrator, uncle, and tutor of Duke Eberhard Louis, now gloriously governing, they found in his most serene highness, and in his council, favorable dispositions to grant them all they demanded, and in effect he granted them some lands: but the Vaudois, whose aim was always to make a body, seeing they could not dwell together, and because they would separate them, they humbly begged of the gentlemen of Zurich and Schaffhausen, to permit them to pass their winter-quarters in their country.
The intercession of the ministers of the cantons, and of some from Geneva, did not a little contribute to obtain them this permission; nor did the great collections which had been made for them in England and Holland prejudice their case; the last of which amounted alone to 92,000 crowns.
And his most serene highness the Prince of Orange, who afterwards became so gloriously King of Great Britain, sent M. de Convenant, sometime counsellor at Orange, to make the distribution with a just economy.
This made a good provision for the nourishment and entertainment of these poor exiles: but still it was not very easy to find them fixed habitations. After divers projects, whereof some were to send them even into the new world, the power, the liberality, and the offers of his late electoral highness of Brandenburg, made at length the gentlemen of the cantons of Switzerland, and all those who with them interested themselves for the Vaudois, determine to propose to them to go and inhabit in the marches of Brandenburg, the lands which were offered them there being upon very advantageous conditions.
As some of them had already been upon the place and described to them the country as being very far distant, and very inconvenient, as well because of the language, as by reason of the climate, both of which indeed are very different from their own; all the kindness and all the marks of extraordinary tenderness which they owned at the same time to have received of the late elector of Brandenburg, did not however make impressions great enough upon their spirits to carry them so far: on the contrary, they declared openly to persons authorized, who spake to them of. it on the part of the gentlemen of Zurich, that they could not resolve to take that way.
It was judged there was too much humor and nicety in such an obstinate refusal, which caused them to pay the less regard to them, and to treat and speak to them very roughly; insomuch that at last there were but few sermons wherein they did not fall upon them; but all to no purpose. And the Swiss gentlemen, offended to the last degree with the little compliance of these poor people, to embrace such good offers, were so offended with this obstinacy, that not willing to alter their measures, they compelled them to sign an instrument, whereby they promised at length to go where they would have them. But although M. Arnaud had signed this act himself, he did not however fail to protest against it, saying, that they had been forced.
And besides that they had signed their march to Brandenburg, it was still insinuated so dexterously in their minds, the necessity wherein they were of going thither, that there were at length more than 800 men, women, children, and domestics, who resolved upon it. These then being accounted the most reasonable, they were conveyed as far as they could, and they obtained in their favor, not only passports, but likewise all sorts of good offices and conveniences from the princes through whose dominions they must pass, as far as Frankfort upon the Main. Being arrived at this town, M. Choudens de Grema, a refugee of the country of Geix, and counsellor of the embassy, came there to receive them, in behalf of his electoral highness of Brandenburg, to conduct them to Berlin; and they were there received by his said electoral highness with a cordial kindness worthy of the greatness of his soul, and of the incomparable piety of this magnanimous and august prince. That which added to the favorable reception which had already been given in his illustrious court, to so many poor French refugees, induced a particular person to form the curious design of a print of a largeness and beauty altogether singular; and this to be exhibited to the public, as a monument of such his Christian and generous hospitality: the plate was engraved by the famous Forneiser of Basle; and M. Hoffman, professor of history in the same city, made the devices and inscriptions. We do not relate them here, nor the speech which was made to his highness upon the occasion, for this would increase the bulk of this narrative.
We return then to the Vaudois, which we left in Switzerland. They had now need of all their constancy, to bear that coldness which their hosts still affected to show them, thereby to make them understand that they must absolutely depart the cantons, and that they must seek other places of.habitation, since in refusing to go with their comrades, they would not like those which had been procured them with a great deal of difficulty.
Seeing then it must be so, they determined every one to the off according to his own particular views and inclinations. It is true, that they mightily inclined to slip back towards Geneva; but as the magistrates of that prudent republic had taken measures which were opposite to that design, they found themselves obliged to disperse themselves in the country of the Grisons, upon the frontiers of Wirtemburg, and in some parts of the Palatinate, which were assigned them by order of the electoral Philip William of Newburg, who was then alive, and had a good inclination to repeople his estates, which the wars have so often depopulated.
It seemed now that these poor wanderers had at length found what they sought, and that now they should entertain no other thoughts but of settling themselves; but having still very different views, M. Arnaud, after having taken care to lodge them, and being willing to make the best of this little interval, accompanied by a Vaudois captain, named Baptista de Sieur Jean, went into Holland, to communicate their design to the Prince of Orange, and to some other lords who had at heart the interest of the Vaudois. That prince of glorious memory, having in one of the audiences, to which he admitted M. Arnaud, understood that the Vaudois persisted still in their design of returning into their valleys, told that minister that he greatly commended his zeal and his piety, and exhorted him, whatever he did, to keep them together in a body, to the end that these ancient churches might not be lost by their separation, and having recommended it to him to have a little more patience, and not lose courage, he made both of them a present of what was necessary for their journey in returning to their people.
Providence, which preserved this handful of people, to make them an example of the wonders which you will see by and by with astonishment, seemed unwilling to lead this little flock into a country where they might settle; thereby to show he designed they should return into their own country. In short, they had scarcely begun to settle themselves, but the train of differences which happened between the Duke of Orleans and the Duke of New-burg, now become Elector Palatine, obliged them to seek for safety by flight; as not judging it convenient to become a victim to the French, of whose fury they had already been but too sensible: wherefore, not suffering themselves to be tempted by the lands and privileges, whereof the Elector Palatine put them in possession, nor even by the offers of the Duke of Wir-ternburg, who would have employed the more healthy and strong, and provided for the rest; they resolved to abandon all these advantages, in order to escape from their enemies. But the difficulty was to know where they should retire; for they easily foresaw, that if they should go farther into Germany, the incumbrance of their families would retard them, and complete their ruin, by making them fall a prey to those from whom they would fly. In this uncertainty they conceived, as if they had been inspired by God, they could not do better than to return to their first sanctuary, i.e. Switzerland; where they were very safe, as you will presently see after a little reflection which it is pertinent to make here, by considering the surprising manner in which God has brought back his people into their inheritances, permitting the French, who had driven them out thence, to be the very instruments of putting them into a capacity of returning thither.
This new disgrace which befel them in a country where they had scarce surmounted all the discouraging difficulties, which are ordinarily met with, when a settlement is first begun in a strange country; and which gave them the displeasure of abandoning to their enemies the harvest of those dear seeds which they had sown in the sweat of their brows; did happily so sensibly touch the people of the cantons, that forgetting all their past discontents, they not only received with open arms the remainder of the Vaudois, but also sent a secretary, named M. Speyceiger, to meet them, from whom they received a thousand favors, and M. Daude, a refugee minister of Languedoc, who did them a great many services at Wirtemburg, where he was better known by the name of Ollympe, having made, in favor of them, a most moving discourse before Messieurs de Schaffhausen.
These gentlemen did also send the Sieur Speyceiger to the other cantons, to represent to them that theirs was of too small an extent to entertain all the Vaudois, and to persuade them, to receive part of them.
The letters of Messieurs de Schaffhausen, seconded by those of Messieurs de Zurich, gained Messieurs de Bern, and prevailed with them to follow their example, so as to make this afflicted people feel the effects of their Christian charity, by entertaining them in the places where they had not thought it convenient to receive them before; for they had then contented themselves to lodge them on the frontiers of Wirtemburg, and of the canton of Schaffhausen, where they lived upon the collections which were made for them in England, Holland, Switzerland, and elsewhere; whereof M. Daude, who lived sometimes at Stutgard, and sometimes at Schaffhausen, had the management. Thus they were again dispersed in several parts of the protestant cantons, even in the country of Neufchatel, of Neuveville, and of Biene, and earned their livelihood by their honest labor, the greatest part of them being employed by the peasants; for it must be remarked to their praise, that during the whole time of their exile from the valleys, there was never any complaint made against them of their ill conduct or misdemeanor in any place where they have been; except that when they went from Zurich, one of their soldiers carried away his master’s gun, which coming to the knowledge of some of their chiefs, who lived at Geneva, the gun was immediately sent back to its owner.
Having had time in these new circumstances to make reflections, they became sensible that the misfortune of being so long tossed to and fro, befel them by reason of their too great inclination to forget their country, and judging that God had not permitted this disgrace, but to convince them more effectually that they should never find rest but at their own home, they again resolved to return thither, whatever it cost them. What contributed very much to this resolution was, that the spies whom they had sent thither above a year before, gave them good hopes, and they knew that the Duke of Savoy had in the spring of 1689, withdrawn the troops he had on this side the mountains, either because that prince had no more apprehension of the Vaudois, whom he knew to be at a great distance; or because he bad need of all his men to reduce the Mondovians, who, according to their custom, had made a new insurrection.
If these two reasons did powerfully contribute to their design; the great and happy revolution which happened in England, was the seal which impressed on their hearts the resolutions not to flinch from it. They saw that the Prince of Orange, who had assured them of his august protection, (in order, by an enterprise the most noble and the most heroic that ever was known, to re-establish the power of the laws which had been subverted,) was proclaimed King of Great Britain, and placed on the throne, which the abdication of King James II. made vacant: they knew also the antipathy which reigned as it were naturally between this new king and the King of France, his zeal likewise for the protestant religion, which looked upon him as its principal protector, and what he owed to all the powers who had favored and assisted his coming to the crown. From all this they agreeably flattered and promised themselves that England would not fail to declare war against France, as indeed it happened soon after. The Vaudois easily foreseeing that this war would give Louis XIV. who was the greatest obstacle to their’ return, employment enough; and that this monarch seeing himself involved in great affairs, would doubtless neglect or despise so small a one as theirs; they thought it was high time to take off the mask, and to improve the opportunity which appeared so favorable to the enterprise whereof we are now to speak.
As these poor exiles had sensibly perceived, that their former attempts had not failed, but for their not having duly kept it secret; their leaders therefore applied themselves particularly to conceal their new design. And that the passage into the states of Savoy, through which they must go, might not be shut against them; and that Messieurs de Bern, being ignorant of the matter, might not ray any impediment in their way, and might even justify themselves, in case they should be reproached on that account; they therefore so well concerted their measures, and managed the affair so secretly, that all their people marched without knowing whither.
CHAPTER - 2
A Diary of the Expedition, and march of the Vaudois from the Lake of Geneva, through the Alps, till they entered into their own Valleys; and their notable adventures in the said march.
THEIR rendezvous was in the country of Vaud, in a great forest called the Wood of Nion, lying between Nion and Rolle; a place very fit for their design, because they could easily lie concealed there, and being between two pretty good towns, and very near some considerable villages, they could very conveniently get provisions from thence: besides, being very near the lake, it was very easy for them to embark privately in the night, without being discovered by any one. They were for the most part happily arrived at the rendezvous, where they waited only for some few of their people, who, they judged, could not arrive there so soon as themselves, because coming from the most distant parts of Switzerland, of Wirtemburg, and of the country of the Grisons, they had a longer journey to make, and ran the risk of being discovered, as indeed they were; for it happened that Count Cassati, a Spanish ambassador to the cantons, perceiving some motions which he thought suspicious, immediately gave notice to the Count de Govon, envoy from the Duke of Savoy. This envoy made so strict an inquiry, that at length he discovered these poor unhappy people, to the number of one hundred and twenty-two, including some strangers, who were not in the secret, who, notwithstanding had the same fate as the rest. They not only took from them their money, which amounted to 500 crowns, but also stripped, bound, and exposed them to all sorts of insults and inhumanities, when they led,them through the popish countries, in order to bring them to Turin; insomuch that as they passed through the cantons of Friburg, the physician Basti was, by means of their hatred of the protestant religion, left for dead under the weight of the blows which they gave him, and whereof he wore the marks all his life; and in fine, they were shut up in the prisons of the said city of Turin, where they remained in a miserable condition for several months, in which time four of them died.
Let us leave these unfortunate prisoners, waiting for their deliverance, whereof we shall speak when we come to the surprising place which will untie the knot of this history. Those who waited for them, not knowing how things went with them, being weary of waiting, and fearing they should be discovered if they tarried longer, thought now of nothing but of passing the lake, to the number of 800 or 900; and indeed it was high time, for a report was already whispered in all the neighborhood, that there were people hid in the woods of Nion. This report, which seemed to make very much against them, was, by divine grace, very favorable to them; for several wagers having been laid in the neighboring places, that it was the Vaudois, who were about some new enterprise, curiosity led several private persons to come in boats to the places where it was said they were.
The Vaudois, who had kept but four little boats in pay, rightly judging that they would not be sufficient to transport them to the other side of the lake, with as much speed as necessity required, they immediately seized the boats of those who came there out of curiosity; insomuch that having by this means 14 or 15 boats, and M. Arnaud, who was then called M. de la Tour, having prayed with them, they embarked between 9 and o’clock at night, Friday, the 16th of August, 1659. As there had been a general fast that day throughout the protestant cantons, and the people being still wholly engaged in devotion, this did not a little contribute to the tranquillity in which they passed the lake. However, all this was not so managed as to prevent one of the blackest treacheries, for one M. Prangin, son of the late M. de Baltasar, who had bought an estate near to Nion, having run thither out of curiosity, as many others did, after he had upon his knees heard M. Arnaud at prayer, run all the remaining part of the night, like another Judas, to Geneva, and there declared to the French resident what he had seen and heard, who immediately went to Lyons to order the dragoons to march against this flock of the Vaudois.
Their first passage was happy, and without accident, and if a wind arose, which separated their boats, scattering them a little, it seems to have been only that one from Geneva, which brought eighteen of their men, might join them; in the meantime they had this misfortune, that having, after their first passage, sent back the boats to fetch those who could not come over the first time, there returned but three, the rest running away, though they were paid beforehand; by which means not being able to tarry any longer, they found themselves obliged to leave above 200 of their men upon the shore of Switzerland, to decamp at soonest from a place where they were too much in danger. They had also the mortification to see the three boats, who remained honest, bring over several good men, who would not stir a step farther, unless they were furnished with arms: and to hear that several others, who departed from Lausanne, the 15th, at night, having been stopped in the way, had been released too late to have been able to arrive at the time of their embarkation.
I shall not enter into the motive which induced the watermen to serve them in the manner aforesaid; it is probable that the fear of losing their lives in Savoy, if they should be taken there; and of being ill-used in Switzerland, if they were found out there, contributed very much to it. I shall only relate, by the by, a fact which is singular enough, viz. one Signal, a refugee, of the town of Tonneins in Guinne, a zealous man, who was settled at Nion, in the quality of a waterman, offered to carry over the Vandois for nothing. In short, he did it with the other watermen: but going out of his boat with his fare, in order to take leave of his friends, whilst he was doing it, the other watermen his companions not only went away, but also carried back his boat. It was to no purpose for him to run and call after them to take him in; not one of them would do it, insomuch that he found himself at a great nonplus, for should he return home by land, he was apprehensive it would cost him his life if the Savoyards should catch him; the Vaudois seeing him in this perplexity on their account, told him he ought not to regret the loss of his boat, since if he would embrace their cause, they would give him, instead of a little boat, a good house, which he accepted, and joined with them.
I easily imagine that the reader is impatient to know what the Vandois, who were so small in number, could do in a country which were their declared enemies. They landed over against the wood of Nion, between Nernier and Ivoire; and they landed there with a resolution to proceed to recover their country sword in hand, and to replant there the true church of Jesus Christ. As what they did in order to compass a design, which seems perfectly:impossible for so few people, is altogether extraordinary, that I may speak of it more clearly and more regularly, I shall here most faithfully relate whatsoever happened day by day.
The First Day’s Journey.
M. Arnaud, with fourteen others, having set the first foot on the eastern shore flora Geneva, immediately placed good sentinels in all the avenues, and applied himself to rank the people in order, as they landed; when all those who could come over were arrived, they formed a regular body, which M. Bourgeois, citizen of Neufchatel, was to command; but he failed of coming to the rendezvous, the reasons whereof shall not be mentioned here. This body was divided into nineteen companies, whereof six were composed of strangers, almost all of Languedoc and of Dauphine, and the other thirteen of different Vaudois communities.
Angrogne had three companies, whose captains were Laurence Buffe, Stephen Frasche, and Michael Bertin.
St. John, two; under Captains Bellion and Belson.
La Tour one; under Captain John Frasche.
Villar, one; under Captain Paul Pelene.
Bobi, two; under Captains Martinat and Mondon.
Prarustin, one; under Captain Daniel Odin.
St. Germain and Pramol, one; under Captain Robert.
Macel, one; under Captain Philip Trone Poulat.
Pales, one; under Captain Peirot.
The six companies of strangers were commanded by the Sieurs Martin, Privat, Lucas, Turel, Tonfrede, and Chien.
And as there were several soldiers who would not list themselves in any of these companies, they formed of them a company of volunteers; and divided the whole into three bodies, viz. the van guard, corps de battaille, and a rear guard; according to the ordinary method of regular troops, which the Vaudois always observed in their marches. They had besides M.
Arnaud, whom one may call their patriarch, two ministers, Monsieur Cyrus Chyon, sometime minister of the church of Pont a Royans in Dauphine, and Monsieur Montoux of Pragelas, who was first minister of the church of Chambons in his own country, and afterwards of the French church of Coire in that of the Grisons, where he had left his family, to follow his countrymen.
After having provided for their safety, they implored the assistance of heaven to conduct their enterprise; after which the said sieur Chyon their minister, went to the nearest village to endeavor to get a guide; but a knight of Savoy, who had discovered our people upon the shore of the lake, having alarmed the people every where, that minister was detained prisoner, and afterwards conducted to Chamberi, where he was kept till the conclusion of the peace between the Duke of Savoy and the Vaudois.
The same knight who gave the alarm, advancing with his pistol in hand towards our people, M. Arnaud, with the sieur Turel, and six fusileers, went after him; but he was so quick in turning tail, that he escaped by flight, from a musket shot which was discharged at him. Now seeing hereby that every body was alarmed, and that they had no time to lose, they sent to Ivoir some officers with twelve fusileers to induce the inhabitants of that village to lay down their arms, and to grant them a passage. These hearing, that in case it was refused, they threatened them all with fire and ‘sword, did indeed grant what was demanded; but however did not forbear to fire a beacon, which had like to have been their ruin; for perhaps their town would have been set on fire, if the Vaudois had not been in a disposition to receive the excuse they brought, which was, that some chil-dred had committed that fault; insomuch that they forgave them, upon condition that the governor and an officer should be their guides: whom indeed they sent back after they had marched half a league; after which they took for hostages the governor of Nernier, with Messieurs de Cou-dries, and de Fora, gentlemen of the country, who were also released in a short time after, the Vaudois being willing to show nothing but humanity wherever they met with no resistance. They indeed observed so regular a discipline, that the peasants With their cures came out to see this troop pass by, and could not forbear praying for them, calling out to them, “God be with you;” and the curate of Filli opened his cellar to them, and made them refresh themselves, and would not take any money of them. Sometime after four gentlemen of Savoy, well mounted and well armed, riding directly up to this little army, were stopped by the van guard, and having desired to speak with some of the officers, they demanded their order, and why they marched thus armed: they were answered, that it was not for them to ask for their order, and that it was well known upon what design they had taken up arms. Being shocked at so resolute an answer, they commanded them to lay them down; but no sooner was the word out of their mouth, but discovering the main body, which was approaching, they immediately changed their tone; and having caused some peasants, which were with them, to retire, they would have betaken themselves to flight, if they had not been slopped, and obliged to alight from their horses, and to march on foot as prisoners, at the head of the troop; which they did only to make them repent of their temerity, in commanding them to lay down their arms. Having ascended a little hill, they found 200 peasants in arms near a wood; they made a detachment, whom they sent to give them chase, the main body in the mean time joined the wood, apprehending that there might be some in ambuscade. M.
Gropel, marshal of the household troops of his royal highness and the sieur Mouche, governor of Boege, who commanded these peasants, made no great resistance. After having bruised their arms, and broke their drums, the Vaudois took some of them to serve as guides, threatening to hang them up on the first tree if they did not acquit themselves faithfully; they also took with them one of the two gentlemen who commanded them, to the end he might bear witness that they committed no disorder in the route. As they passed by his house, he would have given them some refreshments, but they would not hear of it, either because they did not trust him, or because they did not think it convenient to make any stay.
As they rightly judged, that the people would be every where in arms, they thought good to make one of the gentlemen aforementioned write in their behalf, which he did in the following manner: “THESE gentlemen arrived here to the number of 2000, they desired us to accompany them, that we might be able to give an account of their conduct; and we can assure you, that it is very orderly; they pay for whatever they take, and desire only a free passage; therefore, we desire you not to ring the alarm-bell, nor to beat the drum, and to withdraw your people in case they are up in arms.”
This letter, which was subscribed by that gentleman and others, and sent into the town of Viu, had a very good effect, for it afterwards raised a kind of emulation among the people, who should most readily bring them what they wanted in their route: and indeed the peasants were every where ordered to lay down their arms, and to furnish our travelers with horses and carriages for their clothes, which they so speedily executed, that they found every thing ready for them in all the places where they came.
However, as we every where find some who transgress orders, a peasant fired upon a Vaudois soldier; but having missed him, and the soldier pursuing him, he flung down his arms, and was taken prisoner. Another soldier killed a peasant as he was running away armed; and they found among those who fled, one of those Dominicans, who are called Hermits des Ovatons; he had a dagger under his cassock, but contributed, however, very much, by his endeavors, to procure them free passage. As night came on, they stopped near Viu, a village of Foucigni, from whence they had bread brought them, for which they paid, and one of the gentlemen not being able to march any further, was dismissed; after having thus made a hall, to give the inhabitants of Viu, to whom they had sent the letter, time to withdraw, in case they were in arms, they entered the village in the twilight; and having refreshed themselves, they left it two hours after, marching by moon-light; but in half an hour’s time it grew so dark that they made the hostages write another billet to the town of St. Joyre, through which they were to pass in a little time, where indeed, they arrived in half an hour, without meeting any opposition; nay, so far from it, that the people came out in crowds to see our Vaudois, and even the magistrates ordered a ton of wine to be left in the middle of the street, to the discretion of the soldiers, whereof some of them drank, and others would not so much as taste it, for fear it was poisoned. After they had passed over some planks, they came to a rising ground, where they made a halt in an open field: the place was called Carman; it was midnight, and though it rained a little, they tarried there till day, and passed the night in resting their wearied limbs after so long and continual march, and slept a little, to be in a better condition to pass the bridge Marni, which they were apprehensive was cut down. Having here taken the brothers of Georges, they released the two hostages they had taken a Boege.
The Second Day’s Journey.
The 17th of August, being Sunday, they found the bridge Marni in good order, and passed it without resistance, and so entered into a little valley which was very agreeable; the peasants having abandoned it, they took some of the fruits they found there as they passed through. At 10 o’clock in the morning, they came near to Cluse, which is a pretty little walled town, situated upon the river Arve: it was necessary to pass through this town, upon the banks of whose ditches the inhabitants were all up in arms; and the peasants coming down from the mountains, made it ring with the injurious language wherewith they loaded the Vaudois, who, though they were greatly incommoded by a storm of rain, advanced within musket shot, with a resolution to force their passage, which the people made a show of being resolved to dispute with them; at the same time M. de Fora having heard that some of them said, that in case of resistance they must kill the hostages, and being afraid of his own person, desired that he might be permitted to write to the chief persons of the town; which they granted, and he wrote, representing the danger to which they exposed themselves, in refusing, passage to men who had given no occasion of complaint in all the places through which they had passed. As they carried this billet to M. de la Rochette, de la Croix, just then the Chevalier de Rides, M. de la Charboniere, and M. de Lochen, gentlemen of distinction, were coming out of the town to capitulate. They detained the two former, and at their request sent back the letter with a Vaudois officer; when that officer was in the town, they demanded their order, who having boldly answered, it was at the point of his sword; they presently saw that they were in earnest, and therefore they granted them their passage without delay, upon condition that they should pass through, and be furnished with provisions upon paying for them, which was performed accordingly.
They passed through that town, the inhabitants, who were up in arms, making a lane for them; M. Arnaud perceiving that there were no guards at the gates, placed one at the gate through which they defiled, that he might be so much the more secure of the inhabitants; as they were thus defiling, M. de la Rochette advanced to invite some of the officers to dine with him, from which they excused themselves; and having insensibly drawn him out of the town, they told him, that they expected five loads of wine, and five hundred weight of bread. He presently wrote a billet to his father, who immediately sent them a ton of wine, and as much bread as they needed.
Several of them eat and drank, and others, seeing that it too much retarded their march, flung the ton into the river, to the great displeasure of others, who would have been glad to have quenched their thirst with it; M. de la Tour, i.e. M. Arnaud, paid five louisd’ors, with which the inhabitants seemed to be well satisfied. As they were refreshing themselves, they perceived some children running towards Salanches, and suspecting that it was to give them notice of their coming, they made them turn back. When they were about to march, M. de la Rochette, and M. de Rides would have returned, under pretense of going to mass, but they carried them away; and perceiving that a servant of the former had slily crept into the troop, they had some suspicion of him, and, in short, having searched him, they found upon him letters which M. de la Rochette, the father, had written to the chiefs of Salanches; these letters exhorted them to take up arms, assuring them that whilst they attacked them in front, those of Cluse would not fail to charge their rear. Wherefore expecting an attack, and resolving to make a good defense, they defiled near a long valley which was very narrow, and bordered upon by great mountains, from whence one might have defeated a whole army with stones; which, would have been the easier, because the river Arve, by the side of which they must pass, was so swelled by the rains, as to leave almost no room to pass. They found in the midst of their way a village and a castle, named Magland; the peasants, who were up in arms, contented themselves with being spectators of their march, and M. de Loche, who was lord there, after having mightily caressed the officers, found himself obliged to march with them, and for his comfort they also took his curate with them. They affected on this occasion to march confusedly, that not being able to count them easily, their number might not be known; and as they perceived on the other side of the river a horseman, who rode full speed, they guessed that he was going to carry news of the arrival of our Vaudois to Salanches, which is a pretty good town of trade, and a capital of the county Foucigni. In order to arrive there, he must pass over a great wooden bridge, upon which there are houses, and which was within a quarter of a league of it. It was there that Lieutenant Colonel Mallet, with a single battalion of religionaries, did the year following stop M. de St. Ruth with a little army. Being within a hundred paces of the bridge, and believing that their passage would be disputed, the officers formed several parties of their men, to one of which they committed the care of their hostages, amongst whom there were persons of distinction, as well gentlemen as churchmen, and ordered that party to kill them all, in case the Savoyards should fire upon them, whilst they were putting themselves in order, which they did more to intimidate them than out of any design to put it in execution. And that they might be in a condition to attack the bridge, they detached three captains, guarded by six sentinels, to go and demand passage of the town. These met six of the principal men of the place on horseback, who seeing them, posted off as fast as they could; but our people were so quick at their heels that they caught one of them, whom they led away; the others, seeing their companion taken, turned about and came directly to us, namely, M. de Carnillon, M. de Castan, first syndic of the town; M. Fontaine, governor, the sieurs de Bergerat and St. Amour. M. de Caytan having represented that the passage they demanded, being an affair of too great importance to be decided by them alone, it would be necessary that they should go and call together the council of the town to deliberate that affair: they consented to it, allowing them half an hour to resolve themselves, threatening when that time should be expired, they would force the bridge: and as they were about to execute this menace, the said gentlemen returned, telling them the time they had granted them was too short to be able to determine such a demand, and being sensible that they were not in a humor to wait till they should receive succor, they would have returned, but the Vandois making the sieurs St. Amour and Fontaine alight, very civilly intreated them to increase the number of their hostages. This compliment not being relished by them, they desired that one of the two, with one of the other hostages, might be sent into the town to represent to the inhabitants the danger they were in. The Vaudois could easily have forced their passage, without having tarried for all these parleys; but as they had proposed, like good Christians, to spare human blood as much as it was possible; and on the other hand, policy prompting them to manage their people according to the occasions which it was absolutely necessary for them to improve, they were willing to try another method, and to let one of the two last go with one of their other hostages, upon condition that they should bring back an answer, either good or bad: but instead of seeing them again, they, on the contrary, heard the alarm-bell ring, and saw about 600 men in arms, who drew up near the bridge. Our champions seeing it necessary to free the passage of the bridge by dint of sword, found several little bodies, two of which being advanced to make the attack, they saw four Capuchins coming, and as Christian charity induced us to believe that such soldiers sought rather peace than war, they received them civilly. As plenipotentiaries from the town they offered them their passage upon condition they should release the hostages and horses, offering at the same time to give them in their room two of the principal men of the town; this condition of giving up our hostages of distinction, and who through the fear they had of hazarding their lives too much, caused the people wherever they passed, to lay down their arms Without striking a stroke, appeared at first sight too prejudicial to our Vaudois; however, reflecting on the other hand, that they offered them two others, and that fortune might yet put several more into their hands, they accepted the proposal; but having perceived the two hostages, whom they brought from the town, to be but two poor wretches, whom they said were syndics; M. Arnaud, with indignation at the shameful manner in which they would deceive them, advanced towards the Capuchins, who remarking in his countenance a design to seize them, endeavored to escape, by which means he seized but two; for the other two knew how to tuck up their gowns so advantageously for flight, that they escaped. The two who were seized having demanded why they detained them contrary to the law of nations, which forbids seizing on persons who are sent to capitulate; they were answered, that it was because, contrary to the dignity of their gown, and of the character they bore, they had deceived the Vaudois, and impudently lied to them, in attempting to impose on them the miller for the syndic of the town; and having silenced them with this answer, they entered them into the number and company of the hostages. It must also be owned to their honor, that they were a great help to the Vaudois, for upon all occasions when they wanted to obtain a passage, their remonstrances, their intercessions, and their intreaties, were always so prevalent with those who would dispute it with them, that the Vaudois were more astonished than ever, at the power which these good fathers had over the minds of those of their religion. But I shall leave the reader to judge, whether the zeal which they thus showed, proceeded from the fear in which they were continually, or from a true Christian motive.
To return to the business in hand, the capitulation being thus made void, they ordered a detachment to march, which passed the bridge without opposition, and guarded it with forty soldiers, to secure the main body in its march: the whole having passed over, they drew up in battalia within twenty paces of the hedges, behind which the inhabitants were intrenched, and as they saw that we did not fire upon them, but that on the contrary, apprehending that we were going to set the town on fire, as we had threatened, they very civilly sent back two soldiers, whom they had taken prisoners. We passed through very peaceably, and after having taken great compass, arrived at a village called Cablau, where we tarried all night, judging it convenient to rest ourselves; for besides the badness of the way, we had all day long the rain at our backs. It is certain, that finding neither meat nor drink, nor fire to dry ourselves, the rest which we had promised ourselves was very indifferent. However, though these poor people were all wet, and almost starved, they had reason to give thanks to God for this rain, which, without doubt, had been the cause that they were not pursued, as they had all day apprehended they should.
The Third Day’s Journey.
If the Vaudois were not disturbed on Monday, the 19th, by the managements and projects of those of Cluse, of Magian, and of Salanches, they were however very much surprised to hear of the rugged and difficult way they were to go this day, having two craggy mountains to climb up, and to descend; and therefore, as they were passing early in the morning by a village where there was wine, they furnished themselves with good store thereof, paying ready money for it.
In the morning they sounded two trumpets which they had taken with them instead of drums, which would have been too inconvenient for them; and being gathered together, they thought it convenient to unload their fusees, and to charge them anew; after which they began their march through a small rain. They passed by several little villages which were quite forsaken, till they came to a town called Migeves, or Beaufort, where the inhabitants were up in arms; but as they met with no resistance, so there followed no disorder. Having passed through this place, they recovered the height of the mountain, where having found several forsaken hamlets, they rested, by reason of the rain: and as there were on either side of these, conveniences for the cattle, which, during the summer, are sent to pasture, and where they milked their cows, the hostages which were with them, perceiving that they did not meddle therewith, and not relishing their frugal way of living, said one to another, that they very much wondered that so great a body should be so very reserved in their march; adding, that in the article of provisions it was customary with soldiers to take them wherever they found them, without giving the least offense. This intimation, or rather this reproach, from persons who were in the interest of the country, their example, and the shepherds forsaking their cottages, joined to the hunger which our Vaudois now underwent; altogether made them begin to break into their own rules, by taking bread, cheese, milk, and in general, all sorts of provisions which they found, and for which, indeed, they would have paid, had they known to whom.
They came at length to the second mountain, called the Mountain de Haute lute, whereof the first sight terrified them; for indeed it is one of the most craggy, and appeared much more so at that time, by reason of the rains, of the snow, and of the great fog wherewith it was covered; for the fog was:so thick that the guide wondering thereat, they easily persuaded him that it was clouds, by which God hid the Vaudois from the sight of their enemies. Being then, after a fatigue, which is more easy to imagine than express, arrived to the top, they found a forsaken farm, where they took milk and some other trifles for their provisions; after which having scoured the country, they brought some peasants to supply the guide’s place, who thinking himself to be in the clouds, had lost all knowledge of the passes. However, they soon perceived that these led them by the most tedious and most dangerous ways, not through ignorance, but malice; and without doubt to give the Savoyards time to come and sacrifice the Vaudois in those frightful by-ways, which M. Arnaud remedied by threatening them very seriously to have them hanged.
If this zealous leader of this little flock knew how to strike those with terror who would have thus deceived him, he was no less skillful in raising and quickening the courage of those who followed him, by his good and holy exhortations; although it seemed they must unavoidably sink under the load of all sorts of miseries, which were increased in this place by the insupportable fatigue they had in getting through a passage that was cut in a rock, where they climbed up, and came down as from a ladder, and where twenty persons might without difficulty have destroyed 20,000. If it be a hard task to climb up a rough mountain, it is also well known that it is no easy matter to descend a steep one, and indeed they were forced to descend this always in a sitting posture, and sliding as down a precipice, without any other light than what the whiteness of the snow afforded them; and in this manner they arrived late at night at St. Nicolas de Verose, a parish which consists only of a few shepherds’ cottages. In this place, which was as deep as an abyss, desolate and cold, they were obliged to halt, without finding wherewith to make a fire; insomuch, that in order to get fuel they uncovered the cottages; that is to say, in order to avoid one evil they brought upon themselves another, being by this means exposed to the injury of the rain, which lasted all night.
The Fourth Day’s Journey.
On Tuesday, the 20th, their impatience to quit so wretched a post before day, caused two unhappy accidents; the first was, that Captain Maynier, a Vaudois, and a good soldier, was wounded in both his thighs by a musket-shot which was let off by accident in the dark; the second misfortune was occasioned by the spreading of a report that Savoyards had crept into their body with a design to attack the Vaudois when time and place should serve; a Vaudois taking for one of these people, the sieur Bailiff, refugee of Lausanne, who had abandoned his settlement to join himself to our travelers, gave him a blow with the buttend of his gun; and if this captain had not begged of him to give him time to say his prayers, which he did upon his knees, he would without doubt have taken away his life, having already given him a stroke with his bayonet, which entered no farther than his clothes. In this place also Captain Chien, discouraged by so many fatigues, which, by reason of his tenderness, he could no longer undergo, deserted, taking a very fine horse from a place where they left six others.
In the morning they ascended, or rather clambered up one of the ruggedest cliffs of the mountain called Du Bon Homme, being up to their knees in snow, and having the rain in their backs. As they knew that for fear of the Vaudois, and upon the report of their former enterprises, whereof we have spoken before, they had the year before built very fine forts and intrenchments, with embrasures and coverts, in a place so advantageously situated, that thirty persons could not only have stopped them there, but also entirely defeated them, they marched therefore in expectation of a bloody action; but the Lord, who was always with this flock of believers, permitted them to find those fine fortifications empty and without guards; because the people, being weary with having kept them a long time to no purpose, had abandoned them. A favor from heaven! for which they returned God thanks upon the spot! After having marched a long time, descending still in the snow, they found some houses, where they bought a ton of wine to drink in their march; and perceiving that the rear guard tarried too long behind, they halted in a little village to wait for them; but seeing that they did not come, they thought it advisable to discharge their fusees: then those who composed it, imagining that there was a skirmish, forsook the wine which had detained them, and made up to them with all speed. Being in the valleys, it was necessary as they marched along the Isera, frequently to cross that river, which, as it winds very much, was a means of shortening their way: and because this by-way in a very narrow valley, and almost covered by the river, which had then overflowed its banks, ap- peared dangerous, and because they expected to meet with resistance, they marched for some time two abreast; and indeed they discovered upon the top of a hill several peasants, who, with the help of their guns, and the stones, whereof they had provided good store, might easily, in so narrow a place, have rendered their passage extremely difficult. And to speak the truth, the Vaudois reckoned at least that they must pay very dear for it, supposing they should be so happy as to force it; but they were agreeably deceived when they saw, even beyond all their hopes, that these people did not so much as put themselves into a disposition to stop them.
These peasants seeing that their presence had not frightened our Vaudois, returned as fast as they could into their village, and thinking they should terrify them more by giving every where the alarm, they rung the alarmbell:, and presently there was every where heard a most horrible clanging of all the bells, which, however, did not prevent their arrival at the bridge which they sought. Being come up, they found it barricadoed with great trees and beams laid across one upon another, and guarded by armed peasants, some having guns, others scythes, pitchforks, and such like weapons: they had no sooner made some dispositions to attack them, but the Count de la val d’lsere, lord of that valley, a gentleman of the chamber of Madam Royale, came to parley with them, i.e. to grant them free passage, the peasants themselves taking the pains to clear the bridge, and even the curate himself laid also his hand to the work: after which, lest they should be burnt out, as they had been threatened, they retired into their village, which was a musket shot off the other side of the river: as for monsieur the count, after he had delivered his message, he posted off fall speed, so much did he fear being joined to our hostages, who, as soon as they saw any person of distinction, used to say to Monsieur Arnaud, “there is a good bird for our cage;” they put two priests to sing in it, a third being released by reason of his great age; and after having passed through the little town of Sey, without committing any disorder, although they had made a great noise with their bells, and the inhabitants had taken arms, and it was very well known that the lord of it had shut himself up in his castle: they encamped very near this little town, from whence they had as much provisions as they would, paying two pence a pound for their bread, only M. Arnaud voluntarily paid three pence; and they had so great plenty of it, that some of the inhabitants came to buy of the soldiers. In this camp they. thus finished their fourth day’s march.
The Fifth Day’s Journey.
On Wednesday, the 21st, they began their march before day. The villages through which they passed in the valley of Isera were all abandoned: however, a man, who had not thought fit to fly, as others did, but had shut himself up in his house, sold bread to our soldiers from a gallery. The time being come to make a halt, they rested near a little town, called Sancta Foy, which was not abandoned, whence they were supplied with bread, wine, and meat, paying for them; nor did the least disorder happen, the officers having prevented it by placing good guards in every quarter; nay, they were even surprised in this place by the obliging manner of their reception; for several gentlemen, with a great number of people, came out to our Vaudois, and accosting them very civilly, showed joy at the sight of them, praising their design of endeavoring to re-enter their country; and in fine, desired their company all night, offering to bake bread, to kill cattle, and to furnish them with wine for the refreshment of their troops. All these fine and engaging words insensibly staid our people, who perhaps had been capable of being persuaded to their ruin, if M. Arnaud, who was then of the rear guard, perceiving that they did not march, had not advanced to know the meaning of it: the officers having related to him the lively offers made to them by the gentlemen of the town, he gave no heed thereto. And having laid it down as a maxim, always to distrust the affected caresses of the enemy, he not only made the troops march, but also obliged the gentlemen flatterers to bear them company, looking upon them as men, who undoubtedly had a design to be their ruin in the midst of all the advantages promised them. Leaving that place, they entered a narrow vale, between two mountains, covered with tall spreading forest trees; this vale was cut through by tracks, which were very easily to be followed; but had they taken away the beams which, were laid across the little river or stream that watered it, it would have been impossible for our people to have forced a passage, and they would doubtless have been obliged to have marched back; however, they happily arrived at Viller Rougy, where their vanguard seized a curate, who was making an escape, and some peasants with him.
As they came out of this dismal dale, they saw a great many of the country people, who, abandoning their houses, were retiring to the other side of the river. They came afterwards to Eutigne, a village situated in a little plain encompassed with mountains, where they found nobody, the inhabitants having fled to the top of the mountains, where they appeared in arms. A detachment was made to go and give them chase, and one Frenchman only was wounded on the occasion. At evening they encamped near a village called Laval, where they passed the night in a meadow, making a great fire, and fetching provisions from the abandoned houses: the principal men of the village treated the officers, and in this house M.
Arnaud and M. Montoux, his colleague, after having been eight days, and as many nights, almost without eating, drinking, or sleeping, having supped, did at length take three hours rest on a bed: and they can truly say, that never meal nor rest was more acceptable to them.
The Sixth Day’s Journey.
The next day, being Thursday, the 22d, they passed through the town of Tigne, where they obliged the people to return the money taken, as mentioned before, from the two men whom our Vaudois had sent to spy out the country: the inhabitants were very glad to come off with that bare restitution, being apprehensive that they should have been more severely punished: and because they there discharged some gentlemen of their hostages, and some others stole away, having doubtless corrupted their keepers with money; they had the precaution to fill up their places with two priests and an attorney; after which they came to the ascent of the mountain Tisseran, or Isseran, from whence the river Isera takes its name.
After having thus marched stone time, they halted, in order to separate the companies, and to create some new officers. This done, they came into bad ways, in the pastures under the Alps, where there was abundance of cattle, and where the shepherds, who had not run away, entertained our travelers with their milk meats; giving them to understand at the same time, that they would find it very difficult to re-enter their country, since, though their passage had not hitherto been disputed with them, yet it would be in a very little time by a great number of soldiers, who waited for them at the foot of Mount Cenis, without stirring from thence.
This news, instead of alarming them, did on the contrary inflame their hearts, for knowing that the fortune of their arms depended absolutely on God, for whose glory they were going to fight, they did by no means doubt but that he would himself open to them a passage wheresoever their enemies should pretend to shut it up against them. In this hope they courageously descended the said Maurien mountain, and passing through the territory of the same name, they came into a little village called Bonneval, where the curate was mighty urgent to make the officers drink, and where they had whatsoever they desired, though they had soundly punished a peasant who would not march. From thence they marched directly to a town called Bezais, where they were sensible they should meet with the most rascally rabble that was under heaven: in short, being arrived there, they found that the inhabitants, far from running away, did, on the contrary, appear very arrogant, they even used threatenings, and by their insolences, obliged the Vaudois to be revenged of them, and to punish them, by taking some of their mules, and leading away with them the curate, the governor, and six peasants, who were bound for their greater mortification. As they went out of this town they passed the river, and encamped near a little abandoned village, where they were exposed to the rain all night.
The Seventh Day’s Journey.
On Friday, the 23d, as they passed through Lannevillard, they took with them the curate and some peasants, but when they came to Mount Cenis, judging that the curate was too fat and too aged to be able to mount up so high, they sent him back. When they had recovered the height of this mountain, knowing that not far from thence there was a general pastoffice, and judging that by means of that post, they might in a little time spread the news of the certainty of their march every where; to prevent this inconvenience, some of them went thither beforehand, and seized all the horses they could find there; as they returned with a booty, which they had not taken, but in order to secure their troop, they met in their way several loaded mules: being tempted with so fair an opportunity, they laid hands on them, and having unloaded one of them, they found in the two packs, which he carried, Cardinal Ange Ranuzzi’s clothes, who returning from his nunciature in France, had sent his baggage that way, at the same time that his eminence was hastening another way to Rome, to assist at the conclave which was then held, and which raised Alexander VIII. to the papal dignity.
The muleteers coming up with their complaints, desired the officers to order what had been taken from them, to be returned; and these, unwilling in any case to hazard the reputation they had of keeping a good discipline, in not suffering any wrong to be done to those not endeavoring to injure them, ordered that all should be restored; and they did it so sincerely, that in order the more easily to induce those who had made this seizure, they made them believe that what they had taken belonged to certain merchants of Geneva: so that if it be true, that there was any thing lost, the directors of that body protest, that they knew of nothing but of a watch of a singular invention, after the model of the clock at Strasburg, whereof they understood nothing till after it was too late to return it to the said muleteers; they also declare to all the world, that they never saw any of the cardinal’s papers, who, having heard of this fatal accident at Fane, where he was, and whereof he was formerly bishop, judged that all the memoirs of his nunciature, and all the minutes of his letters, would not only be lost, but might even fall into the hands of those who would make a very ill use of them. It gave him so much chagrin, that one may say it cost him his life, as losing thereby his hopes of the pontificate, a dignity which indeed he was capable of filling preferably to any other, as well by reason of his great abilities, as on the account of his having, with a great prelatical air, a most particular knowledge of the interest of princes and of court maxims. It is true however, that a little meanness of soul, which he showed at his death, has greatly tarnished his eminency’s glory; indeed if all France wondered at that which he showed, by loosely shedding tears when he had a guard set upon him, on the occasion of the quarrels which happened between the most Christian king and Pope Innocent XI. one has much greater reason to wonder at his weakness in crying out (as they say) several times on his death-bed, saying, “O le mie carte, O le mie carte!” i.e.
O my papers, O my papers!
After the restitution, whereof we have been speaking, what the Vaudois underwent in passing the great and little Mount Cents, surpasses imagination; for being with horrible difficulty arrived on the latter, they found in the barns several peasants armed with halberds and spuds, who, upon their approach took to their heels; however they caught two of them, whereof one was wounded in the head. They found in this place some small quantity of bread and wine, which they took, and having passed on, they unhappily straggled, either through the malice of the guide, or by reason of the fog and snow wherewith the earth was covered a foot deep; for they descended the mountain of Tourliers, rather by a precipice than by a road; and to complete their misfortunes, night having surprised them, several of their men, through fatigue and weariness, being able to hold out no longer, remained behind, scattered and dispersed one from another in the woods, where they very uncomfortably passed the night, whilst the main body, who had gained the valley of Jaillon, having found dry wood there, were warming and drying themselves in their weather-beaten condition.
The Eighth and most memorable Day’s Journey.
When the 24th day appeared, they had the happiness to rejoin the stragglers to the main body, after which they resolved to march by Chaumont above Suse, and having sent some soldiers upon the discovery, they were informed that there was on the top of the mountain a great number of peasants, and French soldiers of the garrison of Exiles, who were continually tumbling down great pieces of rocks, insomuch that the passage of the little valley being naturally very narrow, and the Jaillon very rapid, they easily foresaw that they must perish if they passed that way; and therefore having re-enforced their vanguard with 100 men, they advanced with intrepidity, and when they came within 50 paces of the enemy, they sent, as was usual with them, to treat with them for their passage, Captain Paul Pelene, who was commissioned for this affair, under the convoy of some soldiers. They also sent with him two curates from among their hostages, thinking that they might facilitate the business, but, on the contrary they made their escape, and even, at their instigation, the captain was seized, bound and chained, with his soldiers, except one only, who returned, having found the strength of Samson in his hair, by which they had seized him; then the enemy firing their small arms and grenadoes, and throwing and tumbling down stones from a high post; which was so advantageously situated that they obliged the vanguard to retire, and to hide themselves under the rocks, and at length to march off through a wood of chestnut, which was on the right hand, and on the bank of a river, which they passed, some of them fording it with all their clothes on, not excepting their shoes and stockings, and other’s upon a trunk of a tree in the midst of boughs and brambles, but with great difficulty. There the Sieur Caffarel de Bobi was taken by the dragoons, after having been wounded in the stomach by a shot, which one of his own men had let fly, thinking he fired upon one of his enemies; because, indeed, he had put on the habit of a soldier whom he had killed. Those who had passed the Jaillon, seeing that the rest did not follow them, turned back and rejoined them; after which they thought it would be better to endeavor to regain the heights, judiciously foreseeing that they were in danger of being wrapped up in a bottom encompassed on all sides with inaccessible rocks.
In order to regain these heights they were obliged to climb, walking oftener on their hands than on their feet, with an incomprehensible difficulty, and whereof one cannot judge better than by reflecting on the despair of the hostages, who being disheartened with marching, they begged as a favor, that they would rather kill them than make them undergo so much. If the Vaudois compassed their design, it was in confusion, which cost them very dear; for several of their people remained straggling in the woods, amongst others the Captains Lucas and Privat, who have not been since heard of; and two good surgeons, one whereof was named John Malanet, remaining hid with some others in the hollow of a rock, was there four days without any nourishment but water, which he got in the night at paces distant from the place, and who afterwards was made prisoner, together with the companions of his misfortunes, and conducted to Suze, whence they were sent together, bound hand and foot, to the senate of Turin, where they lay nine months in the dungeon: for those who were taken in the dependencies of that state, were cast into the prisons of Savoy; and on the contrary, those who were unhappily seized in the territories of France, were conducted to Grenoble, and after that to the galleys, where those on whom death has not yet had pity, do all remain, though they have offered to ransom or exchange them; and it is among these poor innocents that the Sieur John Muston de St. Jean, the other surgeon, of whom we spake before, is to be found, who by his constancy and steadfastness under such long sufferings, deserves a share in this history.
This overthrow, which weakened this little flock, and which lost them a great deal of plunder, as well as some brave men, did riot however weaken the hearts of our Vaudois; for being comforted by knowing that God executes his wonderful designs neither by strength, nor by address, nor by number of men, they reassured themselves, and having taken a resolution to reascend the mountain of Tourliers, they sounded the trumpet a long time, in order to give the stragglers a signal of the place where they were; after having waited full two hours, they agreed that it was necessary to march, though several of their men were wanting, for fear the enemy should gather their troops together to dispute their passage. In short, they began their’ march with so much precipitation, that poor Meinier de Rodoret, who had been wounded by one of his own men, having fallen asleep through weariness against a rock, was abandoned with a single comfort of having a few provisions left by him, and two of the hostages embracing this opportunity, made their escape. Indeed several fired at them, and one of the two, who was a priest, was wounded or killed, but be that as it will, they escaped. When they were got up the summit of the said mountain, notwithstanding there was a great fog, they perceived about 200 men in arms, who, marching with drums beating, made two or three bands, and as the Vaudois advanced towards them with an intrepid courage, their commanding officer sent them a billet, by which he let them know that he did not pretend to hinder the Vaudois from passing, provided they would take the road that was a little above him, where the passage was free and open to them; offering at the same time, upon this condition, to furnish them with provisions: but if, on the contrary, they were resolved to open their way through his post, he demanded eight hours to consider what measures he should take.
Though they knew very well that they ought not to trust this officer, who was the governor of Exiles, too far, they however thought it more convenient to accept of the open passage, than to hazard the forcing of one, which was well guarded; and therefore they marched to the right: but they perceived a little after, that the troops of the same post followed them slowly, under favor of the night.
This management made the Vaudois very sensible that they were endeavoring to engage them between two fires, when they should come to force the passage of the bridge of Salabertran, upon the river of Doire: which indeed was an effectual method to exterminate a handful of harassed people, who were quite sunk with Weariness and misery. Upon this suspicion they sent to demand of these troops the reason of their acting so contrary to their word; to which having answered, that they did not design in any manner to violate it, they made as though they retired: and the Vaudois believing that they did so in good earnest, continued their march through great crossways and through woods, keeping themselves always very close, and halting from time to time. As they approached a village a league from Salabertran, they asked a peasant if they could have any provisions there for money: to which he answered coldly, “Go, they’ll give you whatever you desire, and they will prepare a good supper for you.” These last words, delivered with as much ingenuity as coldness, did not fail to make them apprehensive that they contained some mystery that was dangerous to the Vaudois: however, nothing terrified hereby, they ordered the peasants of the said village to bring them wine, and they obeyed. After a little relaxation they again began to march, and being but half a league from the bridge, they discovered thirty-six fires in the bottom of the valley, which made them judge some troops were there: a quarter of an hour after the vanguard fell into an ambuscade, who being content with firing upon them retired, leaving five men dead upon the place.
No longer doubting but that they must come to an engagement, they went to prayers, and having sent to the right and to the left to see if there were any more ambuscades, they advanced close up to the bridge. The enemy, who were entrenched on the other side, cried, “who comes there?” They were answered very sincerely, “friends, well meant, provided they would let them pass:” M. de la Tour having immediately ordered them to fall flat on the ground, there was but one single man wounded in his neck, insomuch that one of the hostages, a gentleman of Savoy, who had borne arms even to his gray hairs, acknowledged that he had never seen so terrible a fire do so little execution: but what was still more remarkable, is, that the said Sieur de la Tour, Captain Mondon de Brobi, a generous and valiant officer, who is still living, with only two refugees, not only made head against two companies, who were coming to charge their people in the rear, but did even stop them short. Our Vaudois finding themselves thus between two fires, saw that. it was absolutely necessary to venture all without losing any time; in this thought some of them began to cry, “courage, we have gained the bridge!” though they really had not; however, these words so animated the hearts of the soldiers, that throwing themselves desperately on the said bridge, some with sword in hand, others with their bayonets at the muzzle of their pieces, they carried it thus, and went stooping their heads to attack the intrenchments, which they forced on a sudden, and pursued the enemies even so as to shoot them with their guns touching their backs, and to seize them by the hair.
Never was shook so severe, the sabres of the Vaudois cut the swords of the French in pieces, and struck terror as well as fire when they lit on the guns, whereof their enemies now made no other use than to parry off their strokes: in short, the victory was so fair, and so complete that the Marquis de Larry, who commanded, and was dangerously wounded in his arm, cried out, swearing after the French manner, “is it possible that I should lose the battle and my honor too?” And seeing that there was no remedy, he added, “escape, escape who can.” After which, retiring with several wounded officers, he would be carried to Briancon, and not thinking himself secure enough there, he took the road to Embrun, in a litter. The engagement lasted near two hours, and the enemy were put into such confusion that several of their men having mingled themselves with the Vaudois, as though they had belonged to them, thought to. escape by that means, but were all killed; for as the Vaudois’ watchword was “Augrogue,” when they called, “who comes there?” the enemy, willing to counterfeit it, answered only “grogne,” insomuch that this single word cost above 200 men their lives. In, short, the field of battle was covered with dead bodies. Several of the enemy’s companies were reduced to seven or eight men, and they without officers: all the baggage in general, and all the ammunition was a prey to our Vaudois conquerors. The moon being risen, they saw no more enemies. Then M. Arnaud, still under the name of M. de la Tour, called together his little people, and having caused the twelve drums they found to be broken, and what plunder they could not carry off to be cast into the river, he ordered every one to take powder and ball as much as he needed; after which they put fire to what remained; which made such a terrible blast, that the mountains so rang with it, that, one might easily hear it at Briancon: at the same time they caused the trumpet to sound, and every man throwing up his hat towards heaven, made the air to echo with this acclamation of joy, “Thanks be given to the Lord of hosts, who has given us the victory over all our enemies.”
What! a handful of people force 2500 men well intrenched, amongst whom there were fifteen companies of regular troops, eleven of militia, with all the peasants they could scrape together, without reckoning the troops mentioned above, who attacked their rear? The thing has so little appearance of probability, that in order to believe it one must have seen it, or strongly imagine that God not only fought with them, but had even blinded the French; for, indeed, were it not so, how should it be possible that so deaf-sighted a nation, and who are so exquisitely skillful in the military art, should not have resolved to cut down the bridge, which was but a wooden one, since by that means they would have stopped the Vaudois short the river being then so high that had they attempted to pass it, it would have cost them their lives.
If one ought reasonably to be surprised at so glorious a victory, one ought to be no less so at the small number of men it cost the conquerors, who had, on this occasion, but ten or twelve wounded, and fourteen or fifteen killed, half of whom were killed by the fire of their rear guard. As for the hostages, there was one of them, a curate, killed; arid out of thirty-nine, there remained but six, viz. the Chevalier de Rodes, Monsieur de la Charboniere, the two Capuchins, one priest, and a Domican friar des Voirons; the rest made their escape during the fight.
Though after such an action they had more need of rest than ever, considering that for three days they had continually marched day and night without eating or drinking almost any thing but water, yet lest the enemy should have some re-enforcements, it was thought convienient to advance into the country; and to employ the remainder of so glorious a night in climbing up the mountains of Sei, drawing towards Pragelas, by favor of the moon, which they did with a great deal of difficulty; for the people fell down with sleep and weariness at the end of every field; and without doubt there would have been more of them lost than were, if the rear guard had not taken particular care to awake those they met lying on the ground, and to make them march.
The Ninth Day’s Journey.
At break of day, the 25th, being the Lord’s day, they were arrived to the height of the said mountain of Sei. They waited there for those who remained behind, and these having all rejoined them, M. de la Tour called all the men of their body together, and observing to them that they might discover from thence the ridge of their mountains, he exhorted them to thank God for having already shown them some part of the place after which they panted, after having so miraculously enabled them to surmount so many and great difficulties; and made on this occasion a prayer, which inflamed them anew. Having thus returned thanks to God, they descended into the valley of Pragelas, and after having passed the Cluson, they encamped over against the church of the village, named la Traverse, where they obliged them to give them provisions for their money, notwithstanding the refusal made by men who had been their brethren, by the bond of the same religion. They had the pleasure to hear in this place, that it was agreed that in the action before mentioned, they had lost but fourteen of their men; and that, on the contrary, their enemies had left on the spot twelve captains, several other officers, and about 600 men, with a confirmation of M. de Larray’s having been carried in a litter as far as Embrun; but they had also the mortification to hear that thirty-six of their men had been taken near the Jaillon, and eighty others at the foot of the mountain of Set, and were conducted bound and chained to Grenoble.
Though it was Sunday, there was no mass celebrated that day in all the valley of Pragelas; for all the priests having their thoughts more intent upon their safety than their duty, had betaken themselves to flight; as did also the ancient papists of the place, with the son of the governor; who was one of them, and formed a company, which he commanded, and wherewith the only exploit he did, was, that he took four Vaudois soldiers, who had straggled in the woods, and who, in order to have better treatment from him, advised him not to advance a step further, unless he had a mind to be cut in pieces. He was afraid at these words, and hoping that these four soldiers might preserve him from the danger he was in, he promised them that hey should receive no harm: however, he was no sooner out of danger, but he sent these poor wretches to Grenoble, to bear the other prisoners company. As they were preparing to depart at 3 o’clock, afternoon, in order to recover the valley of St. Martin, they saw some dragoons appear from towards Cestires, who advanced into the valley; but seeing that they marched directly towards them, immediately tacked shoot. As for the Vaudois, they passed the night in the village of Jaussaud, which is the highest in the narrow passage of the Pis: there they had provisions, paying very dear for them, but not so much as they wanted, which provoked the Vaudois to reproach the inhabitants with their inhumanity, which was so contrary to their ancient friendship: but these excused themselves, saying, that if it should be known that they had in the least favored them, they should not fail to be ruined. And, indeed, it has been well known since, that the priest coming there to seek for the chalice in the church, told the peasants that if they did not take as many of the Vaudois as they could catch, they would deserve to have their houses burnt over their heads.
CHAPTER - 3
Of some of the principal exploits of the Vaudois, from their first entrance into their Valleys, during their Ten Months’ War therein, till the Duke of Savoy ceased hostilities against them, and took them under his protection.
IHAVE been larger in the account of the return of the Vaudois to the borders of their country, not only from the extraordinariness of the enterprise in itself, but chiefly as it seems so exactly to answer a most signal prophecy concerning the resurrection of those witnesses, as some very learned men understand these words, Revelation 11:11. “After three days and a half, the spirit of life from God entered into them; and they stood upon their feet, and great fear fell upon them which saw them.” And it is certain, it was three years and a half since their total extermination, which was the latter end of December, 1686, to the Duke of Savoy’s edict for their re-establishment, which was in June, 1690.
But not to interrupt the thread of the history with an exposition here to this purpose, which may fall better in the close of this discourse; it must seem to any reader something uncommon, that a people so miserably treated as the foregoing history shows the Vaudois to have often, and lately been, both by Savoy and France, should even, after a total extermination of them out of their valleys, be so restless as they appear to have been in the territories of such nursing fathers and mothers as the protestant powers approved themselves towards them; and that no place abroad could satisfy them, but they will, in spite of all disappointments and opposition, return to a place so situated between their two most powerful and mortal enemies, that when there, they could humanly expect nothing but to be ground and crushed to death as between two mill-stones.
Whatever the scoffers at prophetic revelation may think, I doubt not but to the more serious reader there will appear something like an extraordinary impetus from the Spirit of God in this matter, when considered from the first motions towards this enterprise, till they came upon the borders of their valleys; and, therefore, I have been more prolix hitherto in the account of this expedition.
But though I have been very particular as to their first motions, I shall give the history of their ensuing rencounters in a more summary way, because it would be tedious to relate their single skirmishes and lesser battles, as being made by separate parties; yet that of the siege of Balsile, as it was the last and most furious effort of their enemies, and that by the united forces of France and Savoy, once more utterly to destroy them, it will deserve a more particular narrative, which I shall presently proceed to give.
But now having brought our Vaudois to the entrance upon their valleys, it may be proper before we accompany them into the same, to survey those valleys, which they returned to claim as their paternal inheritances, and to, give an account of the then usurpers, who they were, and how they came to be settled in these valleys. As to the first of which we are to know that there were three great valleys inhabited by these people, to which belonged these several churches here named.
In the valley of Lucern, were Bobi, Villar, la Tour, Angrogne, St. John Roras, Prarustin, and Rochepalate, all populous congregations, having their several churches erected, and their several ministers.
In the valley of Perouse, were the following congregations, Pramol, St. Germain, Villar, Pinache, la Chappel, Pomare, and Aivers de Pinache.
In the valley of St. Martin were these churches, la Temple, Ville Seche, Rioclaret, Bovlie, Fayet, la Maneille, Marcel, Prals, and Rodoret.
There is another valley called Pragelas, but that is under the French dominion, within the province of Dauphine, and not under the Duke of Savoy.
And now as to the usurpers of the Vaudois’ lands and inheritances in those valleys, you are to know that after the valleys of Piedmont were dispeopled of their ancient inhabitants, and the torch of the gospel that had shined bright there for so many ages, was extinguished; that after that perfidiousness and treachery had triumphed over the innocency and dovelike simplicity of the Vaudois; and the Council of the Propagation, and their enemies, had executed the wicked designs which they had so long contrived for their utter extirpation; and the poor Vaudois, for the sake only of their religion, had suffered unjustly the horrible persecution and dreadful dispersion to be seen in the foregoing book of this history.
After, I say, the Vaudois were thus driven out of their country, the Duke of Savoy, and the Council of Propagation, employed all their care and study to repeople these valleys with Savoyards and Piedmontois; and to the end that the Vandois, who, either for fear of death or imprisonment, had abjured their religion, might not assist those that were sent into exile, to return into their country again; they transported most of them into the diocese of Verceil, to inhabit there, contrary to promise made them of establishing them in their own houses.
The valleys being thus repeopled with new inhabitants of the Roman religion, the protestant Vaudois banished, or in prison, and those that had forsaken their religion, being transported a great way off, there was none that believed that ever they could establish themselves again, or so much as enter into their country, since in so doing, they must of necessity cross the lake of Geneva, and all Savoy, pass many defiles, climb the highest mountains, force several strait passes, where ten men might stop a whole army. Yet this however you see they have done.
But to proceed to some of the more remarkable enterprises of those Vandois to resettle themselves in their ancient inheritances, the nearer they approached their valleys, the oftener they found some of his royal highness’ troops posted in the passes to obstruct their entrance, who, though never so:advantageously posted, to have disputed the passages; yet from the terror they had of these bold men, left their posts, and suffered themselves to be pursued like runaways, leaving behind them, as at the strait of Julien, their provisions, their ammunition and baggage, and even the commander’s rich clothes. And this is all that is remarkable in the tenth, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, or fifteenth day’s journeys or marches; except that either by surprise, or pursuit, they often took several of the enemy, whom they put to death; which, however it may seem to tarnish the glory of their adventurous achievements, yet as a faithful historian, I thought I ought not to conceal And the thing which may raise some prejudice against them is, that as tender of doing injury, and as strictly just, as they showed themselves to their enemies throughout their march; yet they no sooner entered upon their own lands, but whoever fell into their hands, whether the popish peasants who had usurped their possessions, the soldiers or militia of his royal highness, who opposed them, or those revolters who, abjuring their religion, became persecutors, but they cut them in pieces, and some, as it may seem, even in cool blood. Their own historian and leader fairly relates the following, among some other facts; and I shall give you, in his own words, his apology.
The last day of August, being their fourteenth march, they separated themselves into two bands, one of which took the height of the mountain, or of the hills of Mendron, and the other the flank. This was immediately perceived by some sentinels, who having forthwith retired, showed the Van-dots that the enemy’s design was to take to their heels; therefore they hastened their march, in order to overtake them, which the others perceiving, after having made a discharge, fled as fast as their heels could carry them, even into Bobi, where they pursued them, and entered as masters, killing as many of the runaways as they could catch.
The inhabitants of this town having abandoned all as a prey, marched off by way of the bridge, without waiting till they discharged a single shot against them; and it must here be acknowledged as a great error in the Vandois, that instead of pursuing the enemy, they amused themselves, the greatest part of them, in pillaging and sacking the town.
The other party, who had dealt more generously, and who had taken their way through the woods, brought in twelve soldiers, or peasants, whereof ten, by advice of a council of war, were put to death: but one John Grass, who was of the number of the twelve, escaped with his daughter-in-law, and his father, because a Vaudois captain, who knew him, begged for him, saying, that if he had never done them any good, yet he had never done them any harm.
One must not wonder, says their historian and leader, that the Vaudois did thus put to death those who fell into their hands; it was with them a powerful reason of state, that they had no prison wherein to shut them up: if they would have put a strong guard upon them, and taken them with them, they could not, having other business for all their people: if they would have dismissed them, that would have been to have published their march, and their small number; and in short, all that whereon the success of their enterprise depended. They have been but too sensible of the necessity of this forced maxim, since after they gave the said Grass and his father their lives, this favor, or this humanity was very prejudicial to them in the sequel, by the injury which these two ingrates did them, though they did in a short time after receive the just reward of their perfidiousness.
Whether this, or many other things which may be pleaded in excuse of proceedings so seemingly barbarous; as that their enemies never did, nor never can be expected, whilst acted by popish principles, to abstain from butchering of them, when. they can get them in their power; and that pure necessity, in order to self-preservation, will at least mitigate what is not in itself justifiable; whether any thing that can be alleged in excuse for such violent measures will wholly take off the guilt, I will not wholly determine, nor need I attempt it; for how great an opinion soever I have of the Vaudois, and their cause, the Vaudois themselves are but men, and as. such must be expected not wholly divested of such passions, in order to self-preservation, as other mortals are affected with.
The 1st of September, being the Lord’s day, was spent at Bobi, and at Sibaud, where M. Mottoux, M. Arnaud’s only assistant, having placed the door of a house upon two rocks, got upon it and preached an excellent sermon on these words of our Savior Jesus Christ, Luke 16:16. “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.” After this sermon, they remained assembled to make divers regulations; the first was, that of the oath of fealty, which M. Arnaud himself read aloud, and whereof this is the form. “God, by divine grace, having happily brought us back into the heritages of our fathers, to re-establish the pure service of our holy religion, by continuing and finishing the great enterprise which the great God of hosts has hitherto so divinely prospered: we the pastors, captains, and other officers, do swear and promise before the living God, and as we would avoid the damnation of our souls, to keep union and order amongst ourselves; not to separate or disunite as long as it shall please God to preserve our lives; and though we should have the misfortune to see ourselves reduced to three or four, never to parley or treat with our enemies, either of France or Piedmont, without the concurrence of all our council of war; and to ay together the plunder which we have or shall take, to be used according as the need of our people and extraordinary occasions shall require: and we the soldiers do this day promise and swear before God, that we will be obedient to the orders of all our officers; and do with all our hearts swear fidelity to them to the last drop of our blood; that we will put the prisoners and the plunder into their hands, to dispose of them as they shall think fit.
For better regulation, all officers and soldiers are forbidden, under great penalties, to rifle any of the dead, wounded, or prisoners, during or after engagements, except those who shall be commissioned for that purpose. The officers are enjoined to take care that all the soldiers preserve their arms and ammunition, and especially to chastise most severely those among them who shall swear and blaspheme the holy name of God; and to the end that union, which is the very soul of all our affairs, may always remain unshaken amongst us, the officers swear fidelity to the soldiers, and the soldiers to the officers, promising moreover all of them together unto our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to pluck, as much as it shall be possible for us, the rest of our brethren out of cruel Babylon, to re-establish and maintain his kingdom with them, even unto death, and faithfully to observe the present regulation all our life long.”
This being done, they read it, and all swore to it, lifting up their hands to God; after which they took an inventory of the plunder that was in the hands of the officers and soldiers, and settled four treasurers and two secretaries for this purpose, as well as for the state of the war; they had made a major, and an aid-major, agreeing that the soldiers might change their company, provided they did it upon sufficient reasons; and they concluded this day with unhanging the bell in the belfry of Bobi, which they hid under a heap of stones, where the enemy found it some time after, as they were going to Bobi.
September 2d, being the next day after the Vaudois, both officers and soldiers, had mutually taken the foregoing oath of assurance to one another; they assembling in a meadow, after prayers, made two detachments, and marching into the valleys of St. Martin and Lucern, they attacked and pursued several parties of the enemy. In which pursuits they were always so successful as to kill many of them, with such little loss of their own men, that the hand of Providence seemed visible on their side.
And thus they continued scouring the valleys, and finding work enough for the Savoyards, till the 22d of October, when the French came into Pragelas 2000 strong, and entering into the valley of St. Martin, gave a quite different turn to the affairs of the Vaudois; so that they were reduced to the utmost distress, perhaps that God might yet show his power more visibly in their rescue. And this, together with what happened at Balsile, to which they retired, being so eminent a part of their story, and in which the wonders of Providence were so much seen, I shall give it at large, as I find it in their history.
To proceed then, the Vaudois having met together at Rodoret; after having left a corps de garde at the avenue of the little strait, they immediately called a council of war, to consult what course they should take; easily foreseeing that it would be impossible to resist so great a number of the enemy, as was coming upon them, at Rodoret. Their sentiments were divided on this point, some holding it necessary to retire towards Bobi, and others, that they should go and seek for safety towards Augrogue, since Captain Buffe was already gone thither with a little flying camp: it seemed that this last sentiment ought to have prevailed, but the others opposing it, our Vaudois remained still undetermined, and were upon the point of running upon their ruin. Then M. Arnaud perceiving their disunion said, that in such a perplexity they ought to have recourse to God; and, indeed, he went to prayers; after which having earnestly recommended union to them, and having made them sensible of the indispensable necessity of it, he convinced them, that since they were no longer in possession of le Anguille, and the enemy were spread over all the country, it was in vain to think of retiring either towards Bobi, or towards Angrogne, adding, that he saw no post more advantageous than that of Balsile; which all unanimously applauded. The resolution being then taken, they agreed that it was however necessary to mike a show of descending themselves; wherefore they immediately fell to casting up new intrenchments on the side by which the enemy were to come; after having thrown them up in the best manner they could, and as high as it was necessary, in order to amuse them, and to let them see that it would not be very easy to force them from the place where they might find them, they abandoned them, beginning their march two hours before day, and in so great a darkness, that in order to discover the guides, they were obliged to put the whitest linen they could find upon their shoulders. Besides, the route they were obliged to take being envi-roned with precipices, they had the greatest difficulty in the world to avoid them; insomuch that they were often under a necessity of crawling upon all four: in this disorder, the hostages seeing a fair opportunity, corrupted their guards, and, together with them, made their escape, without being perceived; for every one had enough to do to take care of himself. One may easily imagine indeed, that men on foot, walking upon all four, were content to come off with the labor and fatigue: but what surpasses imagination, and discovers a visible succor from divine Providence in the most afflicting circumstances, is, that two wounded men happily passed all the same way on horseback. He who has not seen such kind of places, cannot easily represent to himself the danger; and he who has seen them, will doubtless take this march for a fiction, and a supposed march: however, it is pure truth; and one may add, that these places are so frightful, that when the Vaudois have seen them by day, which has since frequently happened, their hair stood an end, and they could not without trembling call to mind that they had very happily by night passed places which they saw could not be passed by day, without hazarding their lives. At length they arrived at Balsile, at a place called the Castle, where they posted themselves, with an immovable resolution to wait for the enemy, and to fatigue themselves no more with running from mountain to mountain, as they had so often done. In order to maintain themselves here, they immediately set themselves to casting up intrenchments: they made covered ways, ditches, and walls. As for their cabins, which were above eighty, they were dug in the earth, and surrounded with gutters, to prevent the waters coming into them. M.
Arnaud preached twice every Lord’s day, once on Thursday, and prayed with them every day, morning and evening; all joining with him very devoutly on their knees, with their faces towards the earth. After morning prayer, those who were commanded, went to work upon the fortifications and intrenchments, which consisted of coupures one above another, and as many as the plat would allow, which were seventeen, disposed in such a manner, that in case of need, they might retire out of one into another; that the besiegers having carried the first, would find the second disputed with them, and so one after another to the top of the mountain. They mounted the guards every evening, to guard the entrance of the way to Balsile; and the mill, amongst other things, wanting a mill-stone, the brothers Trones or Poulats, who were of Balsile, having said that they had flung it into the river about three years before, to hide it, thinking it might one day be a great help to them; it was pulled out of the Germanasque by strength of arms, where it had been buried in the sand. And having passed a great lever through the hole in the middle, twelve men carried it; after which they put it in its first place, and in a condition of working, as it did all the while the Vaudois were masters of Balsile. Besides this mill, they had another half a league from their post, viz. the mill of Macel: but as the way to it was all open, so that when they went to grind there, they ran the risk of being insulted, it was not so much frequented as the other: however, as one was not enough, because every one had a mind to make up a store of provisions, and grind whilst they had mills, and leisure for it, they did not forbear to hazard all.
The enemy being arrived at Rodoret, were mightily astonished to find nothing but the small provisions of the Vaudois; who, because there was a mill, had made a magazine of bread and meal there, besides which there were chestnuts, nuts, apples, raisins, and wine. The French not being able to imagine whither they, who had laid up such store of provisions, could be retired with their ammunitions, thought that they had doubtless taken the straight way to Prals: in this belief they went thither, and remained there some days: in which time the duke’s troops were to post themselves at the strait of Julien as had been concerted, to cut off the communication with those who were in the valley of Lucern. The French, commanded by M. de l’Ombrail, seized all the posts of Val St. Martin, so that they kept the Vaudois as it were shut up. These, in order to secure Balsile, guarded an advanced post, called Passet; the enemy having at length discovered them there, came to attack them; but the same time there came so great a fog that they could not see one another at seven or eight paces distant.
However the enemy husbanded this opportunity so dexterously, that it was impossible for the besieged to discover their stratagem: for having left some soldiers over against that post, who made a great noise, bawling incessantly, “Who comes there? Who comes there?” Their main body at the same time craftily gaining the height, and making their tour under favor of the fog, surprised a corps de guarde; but without sustaining any loss on the Vaudois’ side, notwithstanding the great fire of the enemy, who were just at their heels; which will seem incredible to those who shall judge of it without reflecting on the divine Providence. The enemy having thus taken the post of Passer, and having by that means opened the way to Balsile, advanced on Friday the 29th to attack the castle. In order to come at it, they made several detachments, which from Friday till Sunday night remained in uninhabitable woods, exposed to the injury of the weather, which greatly incommoded them, giving them colds upon heat; for during the whole time of their being there, it did not cease from snowing, insomuch that it has been known that almost all of them had their feet frozen; and if they had been attacked at that juncture, they would easily have been overcome; and during the three days that they kept the castle blocked up, they made several offers, which were all rejected. As they were endeavoring to pass the bridge, with a design to burn part of the village of Balsile, which is separated by the river, the two first who attempted it were killed, and the third wounded; however, the next day, being the 30th, they made so great an effort, that they carried their point, and passed it; but it cost them sixty men’s lives, besides as many wounded, without any loss on the side of the Vaudois.
The Lord’s day night, being the 31st of October, a week after they abandoned Rodoret, the enemy retired to Macel and Salse, keeping still a guard at the strait of Clapier, to the end they might not go into Pragelas; but having one day made a good detachment, they attacked them with so much vigor above the said strait, that they happily defeated a great number, and came off with the single loss of Captain Gardiol, who having been wounded in the shoulder, died some time after for want of medicaments.
Some days after, three men of the valleys, who had changed their religion, together with the sister of John Frasche, captain of the company of la Tour, came to see the Vaudois at Balsile, and being returned to Bobi, the wickedest amongst them, who was the son of one John Micol, a revolter of the community of Chabrans near la Maneille, a man, who had changed his religion fifteen years before; willing to show himself worthy of so wicked a father, reported to Salignac, who was at Bobi with his company, which was all composed of revolters, that the bridge of Macel was not guarded, and that being at a distance from the place, they might doubtless catch some of those people who went there to grind their corn. This Salignac immediately went with this traitor to la Perouse, to give notice of it to M. de l’Ombraille, who commanded 500 men, to go on this great expedition, to break down a mill. This great detachment found some Vaudois, who were making bread in a neighboring village, and put them to flight, making a great discharge all around the said village, which ended only in the taking three poor French refugees, whereof two, who were sick, endeavoring to escape in their shirts, were killed. The enemy, to leave a mark of so glorious an expedition, cut off the heads of these two dead bodies, and tied to the neck of one of them the natural marks of his sex: after which they obliged the third to carry the heads of the two others to la Perouse. This good man trembling as he went, prayed to God with so much zeal, that the judge of the place, though he was a Roman, out of pity begged him of M. de l’Ombraille. But he who never spake of any thing but of exterminating them all, threatened the judge to have him hanged up with him; however the governor of Pignerol not permitting them to hang this poor wretch in the dependency of his government, it was done at the Castle du Bois Feere, in the valley of Pragelas: after which they stuck up his head upon a pole, that the soldiers who came from France, and who passed that way, might see it; and every one looking upon that spectacle, said, that was the end of the Barberies. One cannot sufficiently praise the excellent death of that poor sufferer; for it is reported that the prayer which he made did so edify those who assisted at his death, the greater part of whom were men who had changed their religion, that they could not refrain from tears, when they saw a steadfastness and constancy which reproached their weakness: for as he went up the ladder, he told the judges and the executioners, that he was glad to die; that he would not change his religion; and that he died for a righteous cause; adding, that the Vaudois had still bread, corn, salt, and powder, and that for one man of whom they deprived them, God would infallibly raise them 500; a prophecy which was really accomplished a few months after the prince’s declaration. This man was one who did so fear God that he went out the day that he was taken, only to go into the village, to take care of those his two companions who were sick, and even to endeavor to bring them away with the rest, before they died, if their strength would have permitted.
Amongst other things they would have had him discover, they would have known where the Vaudois got their store of salt, but not willing to betray them, he answered, that they extracted some from saltpetre, in which he did not wound his conscience.
Though the French have always shown cowardice enough by deserting; yet it must be confessed that there were some among them who have shown a great deal of constancy and firmness, as you have seen in the hard fate of this man, who, to the death, stood by the interest of those in whose service he died. The Vaudois ought here also to pay their grateful praises and acknowledgments to the Sieur Francois Huc, native of the town of Vigan, in Cevennes, who having joined them, has always served them in the capacity of a lieutenant, with a very exemplary zeal and fidelity, till at length, for his recompence, he was made captain-lieutenant of the Religionaries furnished by his Britannic majesty, and their high mightinesses the States General. The good testimony which has always been given of this man by all those who have known him; and particularly by M.
Arnaud, who has always had an esteem for his valor, his zeal, and his probity, deserves this little digression in his favor, and with the greater reason, because his memoirs have very much contributed to his faithful relation of the pure truth of the facts contained in this history.
After the action at the bridge of Macel, the enemy resolved to abandon Macel, la Salse, Fontaines, Rodoret, and Prals, either because the season, which rendered the country impracticable, would not permit them to do otherwise, or because they were tired out by undergoing heats and colds to no purpose. And after having raised the aforesaid places, transported all the corn, and whatsoever else they judged might serve to entertain the Vau-dois, they burnt almost all the houses, the farms, and the barns, and calling out to the Vaudois, to stay there till Easter, they retired thus, without daring to attack their intrenchments, and so went to la Maneille and Perrier: and knowing by experience that they could not take precautions enough to secure themselves from the insults of the Vaudois, they intrenched themselves there with high palisadoes all round their corps de guarde.
The enemy having thus shamefully retired; the Vaudois, which were still together to the number of 400, began a little to take the air. They had been told indeed, that they should be visited again; but all that did not terrify them, because they trusted still on the divine succor, which had so visibly delivered them from the hands of their enemies, and had saved them from the hunger, by which the enemy designed to put an end to their lives.
They were come to Balsile without having enough to live upon the next day: there they lived in the meantime upon cabbages, beets, and corn, which they boiled and eat without fat, salt, or any other seasoning, till such time as having repaired the mill, they were able to make bread. This providence of God ought to make those of them blush, who having unhappily despaired, had retired; and ought to satisfy the whole world, that heaven declared in favor of the Vaudois, since when they were shut up as it were in a prison by two powers: who not being able to exterminate them by the sword, sought and used their utmost efforts to starve them with cold and hunger, in a place, out of which they durst not so much as put their nose; yet, notwithstanding all this, they subsist, and keep off, and tire out their enemies, putting them into a perfect surprise, and filling them with confusion. It is with a great deal of reason we have said that heaven had declared in their favor, since the Lord, who at their arrival in the valleys of St. Martin, and of Lucern, made them find bread, wine, meat, rice, pulse, meal, corn, in the houses and in the fields, already reaped and to reap, with the gardens in good condition, and a brave harvest of chestnuts, and of wine, still continued to provide so abundantly for their subsistence, that it is easy to see that they have been miraculously relieved: since the corn which had not been reaped any where thereabouts, was preserved under the snow, in January and February; and even in May, the next year, they gathered some which was not spoiled, particularly that of Rodoret, and of Prals, which they were going to gather when the coming of the French made them abandon that design; which one may again attribute to the permission of God, since if they had done it, the corn would have been burnt in the. barns, whereas remaining thus in the fields, it was preserved therefor the service of those for whom God had appointed it, and who afterwards reaped it in the heart of the winter, even in February, after it had been eighteen months upon the ground.
During this season of tranquillity, which the Vaudois enjoyed, having a little more elbow-room than ordinary, they sent frequent detachments to beat the country, as well in their own valley to gather in the rest of their corn, as in that of Pragelas, to fetch bread; and in that of Queiras, to get salt and fat. One day, as some of them were in the borough of Bourset, the syndic letting them know that the inhabitants of that place had much rather agree to a contribution, than to be thus every day exposed to their incursions, told them that three or four of their captains, with a convoy, should come to confer with them, and agree together; and even gave to a captain, who drank with him, a billet, containing the same advice, and giving them to understand that he had some good news to communicate.
The Vaudois, who went thither in the sincerity of their hearts, and did not mistrust what this infamous apostate was plotting, sent thither upon the day appointed a captain, named Michael Bertin, with some soldiers: the French, to whom the syndic had purposely given advice of this interview, having sent 200 men to garrison the said Bourset, placed some of them in ambuscade, who, as soon as the said captain came to pass by with his soldiers, made so cruel a discharge upon him, that they killed him, and afterwards cut off his head two of his soldiers were also slightly wounded, and there was not one amongst them who did not receive some shot in his clothes. This black treachery of the syndic cost the enemy very dear, and the traitor reaped but little satisfaction from it, and less profit; for the soldiers of the garrison of Bourset appearing afterwards upon the strait of Clapier, with a design to surprise twenty of the Vaudois, who were there, these made another detachment, which harassed them with so much vigor all the day, that they had sixty killed and wounded, after which they went and burnt all the houses about Bourset, and all the village of la Fronchee.
This was all the advantage the syndic had of his perfidy, with a garrison which he drew upon the inhabitants of his borough, and without doubt at his own expenses, for it has been known since, that that man had said, that he had much rather be at the charge of some pistoles every day himself, to maintain a garrison, than to see the Vaudois come to his house to fetch provisions.
When a party was going out of Bobi, they were commanded not to advance towards the enemy, because of their corps de guarde: however, some of them slighting that warning, and little regarding the danger that was represented to them, did not forbear, towards the latter end of January, to hazard themselves where it was said there was most to be feared. And their going out was indeed very advantageous; for having discovered nine men armed, who were going to Mirebout, they went and attacked them, and killed one of them, upon whom they found letters, which he was carrying to the governor of the said place. These letters informed the Vaudois of what was passing in the world, and of the mysteries, the knowledge whereof was so important for their preservation, that one cannot doubt but God caused the rencounter; especially if one will but consider that those of the Vaudois had taken a road, when they went out, that was contrary to the advice that had been given them; and that he who carried the said letters to the governor of Mirebouc had, in like manner, departed from Breiqueras, contrary to the sentiment of his people; which shows that divine Providence, which had its ends, would that these two parties, who had orders to shun one another, should meet together, and out of three, there should remain upon the spot none but just the man whose death, as one may say, gave life to the Vaudois.
Sunday, the 12th of February, they saw Parander of St. John, a sister of John Frache, and two others, arrive at Balsile; the said Parander brought a billet from the Chevalier Varcellis, commander of the fort de la Tour, for Puy, brother-in-law to David Mondon, prisoner at Turin. They quickly saw that this was an artifice of the commandant, to discover thereby the countenance of the Vaudois, the condition of their post, whether there was a great number, and whether they were furnished with provisions: likewise all the soldiers of Balsile looked upon them as spies, and did not approve the too great complaisance of the officers in letting them go, because they had been of the reformed religion. The billet which they brought was in Italian, and was translated into French as followeth: “David Mondon desires to speak with Peter Puy, or Pontet, his brother-in-law: in order whereto he has spoken to the Sieur Parander, in the prisons of Turin, and has desired him to transport himself to the mountains, to know of his said brother-in-law whether he would resolve to come to Turin; and in case he is willing, he shall have a safe conduct in such good form, that he may go and return to his post, with great safety; and the said Parander will bear him company if he desires it, and it is for this very reason that permission has been given to the said Anne Frache, sister of John, who will be so kind as to let her, as well as the said Parander, speak with the said brother-in-law of Mondon. This is what I hope and expect from John Frache.” (Signed) Lucern, Feb. 10, 1690.
The Chevalier Vercellis, commandant. The Sieur Puy sent back the following answer. “I have received the billet which was sent me in behalf of David Mondon, my brother-in-law, who is prisoner at Turin. I most humbly thank the Chevalier Vercellis, who sent me the Sieur Parander, Mrs. Frache, and two others, to bring me news of my brother Mondon: I am very glad to hear that he is in good health; but as for going to see him at Turin, it is what I cannot, and ought not resolve upon, on the single credit of a safe conduct: but if a sufficient hostage shall be put into the hands of our people, I could easily take other measures. The four persons who brought the billet have been sent back peaceably, and with a passport.”
Balsile, Feb. 13, 1690.
Upon the last of February James Richard returned to Balsile with letters from the Chevalier de Vercellis, to John Puy; as also from M. Gautier de la Tour, to Arnaud, his brother-in-law; from Anthony Belion, to Bartholomew Belion, his brother; and from M. Joseph Osasque to John Fraehe.
It would be thought too tedious to exhibit these letters of less moment, to show either the artifices of the enemy to bring them to capitulation, or the firmness of the besieged in rejecting their proposals, as also the reasons offered for and against these endeavors of the Vaudois, to recover their ancient inheritances by force of arms. All these are sufficiently expressed in these which follow, and their answer to the proposals of the Marquis de Pareille himself, and which I shall therefore content myself to insert.
Their letters and messages hitherto proving ineffectual, some days after the Marquis de Pareille sent again an express, with a new despatch from M. Arnaud’s relations, which runs thus: “The letter which you sent us is not suitable to the times into which we are fallen, nor to the place where you are: your obstinacy will ruin you all; your entire ruin draws nigh: improve the time that remains while it is:in your power, and make use of this notice without losing a moment’s time it is your brother and your sister who give it you, and who intreat this of you with their heart: you may know more from the bearer: farewell: believe him: believe us: you are all undone if you do not take other measures. We are heartily, “Your dear brother and dear sister.”
Monsieur Arnaud was not frightened by this pressing letter, nor was he and the rest any more by that which follows, which came to them in general from a person of great distinction: who reckoning that all the poor Vaudois were going to be sacrificed, being moved with compassion, wrote to them the 11th of January, 1690, after the following manner: To Monsieur Arnaud, and the other Officers of the Vaudois Troops, at Balsile. “As I see that you are upon the point of being attacked on all hands by the multitude of the troops, which the king sends, to dislodge you from your post, and that these troops are commanded by Monsieur de l’Ombraille, who is worse than a devil, and who has found means to seize all the posts of Queiras, and of this valley, which puts him into a condition of being able to force you on all sides: I have thought it worth the while to hazard my life, and that of the bearer hereof, to let you know that you would be well received, and would have good quarter, if you would frankly explain yourselves. I desire you to make haste to send me an answer with all possible secrecy; for else I should be ruined, having to do with such a man as M. de l’Ombraille. I send this man for your good, endeavor to send him back, so that he may not be seen.
I hope all will go well; I conjure you to think upon what I have said, as being passionately, “Messieurs, “Your most humble and most obedient servant. “But especially let not this man be seen by the troops: tear this to pieces: for should it be found, I should be undone.”
The Sieur Richard brought no other answer to M. Arnaud’s relations, but that he gave his service to them, and did not answer them, because he had lost his inkhorn.
The 10th of March, at night, the Vaudois killed two peasants near St. Germain, and Wednesday, the 12th, they made a detachment, which went towards Pramol. Some went and posted themselves at the barricadoes, to wait for those who should endeavor to escape; but at an unfortunate time, several escaping by the favor of a great fog: the others, after having given chase to a corps de garde of about twenty peasants, burnt several houses, and pushed on as far as St. Germain, where Augustin Belleinat was killed by the enemy, and David Prim Miquelot at the same time, by the imprudence of a Vaudois: the Vaudois had also three men wounded, but it cost the lives of about ninety men of the enemy, who afterwards confessed to those who went to fetch salt from Villar de Pinache, that there fell 120 of their men. The detachment also brought a great number of cattle, whereof a great part remained by the ways; but that which arrived safe at Balsile was a great relief, and finished the cure of the sick, who had greatly suffered for want of something to make them some broth in their sickness. At the same time the Sieur Droume, a refugee in Switzerland, coming from that country through Pinache, arrived at Balsile with a billet, assuring that they might give credit to what he should say, and that they should not want for manufactures (by which they meant succours). They sent him back speedily, upon his having promised those who sent him, to be back before Easter. He had made use of a passport from Turin, which one Rosaro of Pragelas, who had deserted with Fonfrede, had sent him, but which did not prevent his being stopped at Suze, and led prisoner to Turin, having probably been betrayed by somebody or other in his return.
This was the only person whom the Vaudois had seen of their people since their entering into their. country.
The 22d of March, some soldiers of la Maneille came towards Macel, and having planted about ten pickets, they fastened cards to them, directed to several Frenchmen, whom they had invited to surrender themselves in the following terms: “Messieurs Frenchmen, who are in the valleys: — We, Retournat and James Causse, give you notice, that the king gives a pardon to all the French who shall come to surrender as we have done: you shall have liberty of conscience, and even passports, if you have a mind to retire; we are in the first company of the regiment Du Piessis very easy: make a good use of the advice which we give you. JAMES CAUSSE, RETOURNAT.” Others were directed to private persons in this form: “My dear friends, Clapier, David, and Stephen: — This is to give you notice, that the king grants an amnesty to all his subjects who shall come and lay down their arms as we have done; we are in the regiment Du Plessis, and in the colonel’s company. His royal highness has done the same: improve this opportunity. JAMES CAUSSE, RETOURNAT.” All these snares were laid in vain, and all these deceitful baits had not the success which the enemy had promised themselves from them. The 2d of April, those who had been sent upon the discovery, killed two soldiers of the enemy near la Maneille, and as many at Prals. The 3d, a little detachment going to Bobi, killed four peasants who were gathering chestnuts, the greater part of which, as well as a great part of the grain, had been preserved. The 17th, the Sieurs Parander and Richard arrived at Balsile: where they made proposals anew from the Marquis de Pareille; to whom the council of war thought good to write the following letter: “My Lord, “The people of the valleys have long been sensible of the affection which you have always showed them. The reputation of your excellency is so well established in the world, and especially in Germany, that the name of Pareille is in singular esteem there. You continue still, my lord, to give us marks of the generosity of your soul, by sending us Parander and Richard, who have made some proposals to us for the public good. The council being assembled, we have taken the liberty to write to your excellency, and to pray you earnestly to continue your good offices for the good and quiet of the families and people, by representing (if you please) to his royal highness: “I. That his subjects of the valleys have been in possession of the lands which they had, time out of mind; and that these lands were left them by their ancestors. “II. That they have at all times exactly paid the taxes and subsidies, which he has been pleased to lay upon them. “ III. That they have always yielded faithful obedience to his royal highness’ orders in all the motions which have happened in his estates. “IV. That in these last motions raised against these faithful subjects, by another spring than that of his royal highness, there was not so much as one criminal in the valleys: every one laboring to live peaceably in his own house, rendering unto God an adoration, which all creatures owe him; and to Caesar, that which belongs to iron; and that notwithstanding all this, so faithful a people, after having greatly suffered in the prisons, find themselves dispersed and wandering about the world. Your excellency will not doubtless think it strange if these have nothing more at heart than to return into their lands: alas! the birds which are destitute of reason, return in the season to seek their nests, and their habitations, without being hindered: but men, who are created after the image, and in the likeness of God, are hindered. The intention of the Vaudois is not to shed men’s blood, unless it be in defending their own: they do harm to nobody; if they remain upon their own lands, it is in order to be on them as formerly with all their families, to appear good and faithful subjects of his royal highness, the sovereign prince, whom God has given them; we therefore, with submission, intreat your excellency to defend and back our just reasons, and to believe that we have a very particular esteem for your excellency, as having known you for a long time: we shall redouble our prayers for your preservation, and for that of his royal highness and all his royal family; and above all, that the Lord’s anger may be appeased, which seems to be kindled against all the earth. If your excellency will be so kind as to honor us with a word by way of answer, these two men may bring it us with safety; we hope we shall be dealt sincerely with in all these affairs, as we value ourselves upon doing on our part; as we also do of being with respect, My lord, Your excellency’s most humble and most Obedient servants, and for all, HENRY ARNAUD, P. P. ODIN. “P. S. — We are singularly obliged to your excellency for the care you have taken of our prisoners, and desire that your charitable offices towards them may be more and more increased.”
They wrote at the same time to the Chevalier Vercellis in these terms. “Monsieur, “We were willing to charge Parander and Richard with a letter to deliver to you for us: being persuaded that you love the ease of the people, and the preservation of the state. We took the liberty some time ago to declare our sentiments by a letter which we had the honor to write to you: we really thought that examining them without passion, with a peaceable and meek spirit, you would discover the justice of them, that some regard would have been had to them, and that you, sir, would have been so kind as to back them with your authority for the sake of public quiet, and the ease of families; which we the rather imagined, because it is the true employment of good souls, who seek to imitate God, the Sovereign Prince of Peace. We told you that we had no thoughts of doing hurt to any body, when we return to possess the heritages which we have from all time possessed: rendering to God, as we have always done to him, and to Caesar, that which is due to him. You are had in such particular esteem amongst us, that we hope we shall in a little time, by your measures, see a change in the face of affairs: for in the condition wherein they now are, nothing but great desolations are to be expected on all sides; if we may have the honor of an answer, it may be sent with all safety by these two men; provided we be dealt as sincerely by, as we act on our part: being with a singular affection, Sir, Your most humble and most Obedient servants, and for all, HENRY ARNAUD, P. P. ODIN.” The 22d of April, a detachment of 100 Vaudois going out with a design to surprise the convoy, which went over two days to la Maneille, and to Petter, killed near the bridge of la Tour ten or twelve persons, as well soldiers as peasants, and among the rest, a curate, who was going with the laborers to dress his vineyard: those of Petter made a detachment to pursue them, but in vain; for they retired without loss, after having burnt the enemy’s barracks near Peuet. As they returned, they caught a soldier, who said he was of Savoy, and valet to a captain of dragoons: having brought him to Balsile, they obliged him to cast into the river the dead bodies which had lain in the neighborhood ever singe they had entered into the valley in September, and stunk extremely.
As the history, which we here relate, is a kind of tragi-comedy, you find that the nearer we approach to its unravelling, the weaker our hopes of good success for the Vaudois seems to grow. The French, who had threatened the Vaudois, all the winter, with a visit in the spring, took all their precautions, for that purpose; and the Vaudois perceived on the Lord’s day morning, the last of April, 1690, that they persisted in that design, and were resolved to do as they had said; for they saw their troops defile by the bottom of the valley, through the strait of Clapier, and through that of Pis. Those who came through the latter, had remained two days upon the mountain in the snow, and without fire, lest they should be discovered, hugging one another to keep themselves warm; expecting the signal and orders. They had commanded about 1400 peasants, as well of the Val Queiras, as of Pragela, and the valley of Sesane, to clear the way for them, and to bring them provisions; and that they might the better invest the place, they made their detachments march to the posts which had been assigned them, with a design to enclose the Vaudois in such a manner, that they should not be able to escape: but happily for them, they had the precaution to make themselves barracks, and little intrenchments on the second tier of the castle planted with guns, whence they could fire upon the mountain. Each company had also taken care to store their posts with large stones, to entertain those who should undertake to come thither.
But before we proceed any further, the reader would doubtless be glad to be informed how this castle was situated; it was on a very steep rock, having as it were three tiers, or different stories, which encompassed it, and on the top a large flat, where each company had made themselves lodgings in the ground. There are also three running springs; it is very difficult of access, except it be by the side of a brook, which runs by the foot of this castle. But as Monsieur Arnaud presently foresaw that that was the only part where they could be attacked, he took a particular care to fortify that entrance, by planting strong palisadoes, and working upon them himself, and raising little parapets of dry wall, with some trees, which each company had brought out of the wood. They disposed these in such order that the boughs stuck out towards the enemy, and the roots towards the Vaudois. Besides, they were loaded with great stones, viz. a row of trees and a row of stones upon them, which could not easily be broke through: however, the enemy imagining that nothing would be impossible for them to do against so little a troop, made the dispositions which they thought necessary for an attack. Their dragoons encamped on Monday morning in a wood, to the left of the castle; they afterwards crossed the river, and lay in ambuscade all along the water side: the continual fire which was made upon them, as well whilst they were in the wood, as after they were in this ambuscade, killed them abundance of men.
Some hundreds of his royal highness’ soldiers did no more than barely keep their post; either because their orders ran so, or because they were willing to yield to the French the glory they hoped to gain on this occasion; but which they might as well have been without. The main body of the enemy’s forces coming up, approached the ruins of Balsile, but they retired very hastily, leaving several dead, and having a great many wounded. An engineer, after having viewed the height through a telescope, and observed the best place to make an attack, judged it should be formed to the right. The enemy, to the number of 22,000, viz. 10,000 French, and 12,000 of his royal highness’ troops, made a detachment of 500 French, chosen by order of Monsieur de Catinat: these 500 men, under favor of a discharge which they made all together, approached the first bastion. They presently thought that they had no more to do but to pluck out the trees, and that they should after that have an open way; but they were mightily mistaken when, endeavoring to do it, they perceived that those trees being loaded with stones were unmoveable; and as it were nailed down. The Vaudois seeing that the enemy could not compass their design, and being as it were breast to breast, they began to fire so violently, that they laid the greatest part of these hectors on the ground, Who had, unhappily for them, been chosen out to be led to the slaughter. The hail of musket balls, wherewith the air was filled, was very surprising; for the Vaudois had so well taken their precautions, that they had placed the younger soldiers to recharge as fast as the others discharged; insomuch that it was a continual fire, which overwhelmed the enemy; maugre a snow which never ceased all the time, and which did not hinder the powder, though half wet, from taking fire very well. In short, the Vaudois seeing the greater part of the detachment fallen to the ground, and the rest all in disorder, sallied out of their intrenchments, and pursued and slew the rest, except ten or twelve, who escaped as well as they could, without hats or arms, and went to carry the news of so brave a defeat (to their own confusion, and to the honor of the Vaudois) to Monsieur de Catinat, who was retired to Clos, and from thence to la Perouse. Monsieur de Parat, who commanded this detachment, was found wounded in his thigh, and in his arm, being between two rocks. They took him prisoner, because he was the commandant: and they led him into the very barrack which he hod some hours before shown to his soldiers, saying to them, “children, we must go and lodge in this barrack to-night.” They took with him two of the most considerable serjeants, whom they afterwards killed, because they endeavored to make their escape, and so had obliged them to take this method, because they had for some days viewed and observed the condition of the Vaudois; and if they could have made their escape, they might have given an account of it. But what is most surprising in so bloody a day’s work is, that the Vaudois had none either killed or wounded. The enemy being exceedingly astonished, retired that very day to Macell, and if they had been pursued a little further, it is probable that there would not many of them have escaped. As for the Piedmontois, who had been only spectators of the bravery of the Vaudois, and beholders of the defeat of the French, they Went and encamped in the field of Salse.
The next day being the 3d of May, the first thing they did after prayers, was, that they beheaded the dead, and planted their heads on the palisadoes which they had raised, to make the enemy more and more sensible, that they would not come to any farther arrangement with them, and that they were very far from being afraid of them. As they afterwards told Monsieur Parat, that in order to have his wounds dressed, he must send for a surgeon; because that he whom the Vaudois had providentially found at Angrogne, in September the year before, had been dead for some days; he wrote a billet, wherein he desired that his surgeon-major might be sent to him. This billet was carried by a young lad of the company of the volunteers, with an order to fasten it upon the end of a stick, which he was to fix in the ground near la Maneille, who being alone, he hallooed to let the French know who was there. Upon this notice, the said surgeon was sent with medicaments and brandy. He was no sooner arrived, but the Sieur Parat asked him if he were certain he could cure him, letting him know that if he doubted of it, he would send for another 200 leagues off. This surgeon seeing he distrusted his skill, would have returned, but they put him with the said commandant under a good guard, and they even obliged him to take care of all the sick and wounded that were at Balsile. As they rifled the said Sieur Parat, they found upon him, among other things, the order he had received from Monsieur de Catinat for this attack, which was attended with such unhappy success.
I shall not here detain the reader with the accounts which even the enemy have given of this repulse, which they own to have been rude enough. It may be sufficient to remark that in a relation which came from a Savoyard, and an officer in the camp, and which gives a well circumstanced detail of the whole affair, there is enough to show that it was their enemy’s inward sentiments, that the Vaudois were under the immediate protection of heaven. The officer’s words were these: “Then when we thought to go at last, and make ourselves masters of the Vaudois, there raised on a sudden so horrible a fog, and so extraordinary a storm, that a part of the army, upon my testimony, and upon that of some officers, who had, as well as I, seen the same thing happen, and just in such a nick of time, thought that heaven visibly interested itself in the preservation of this little people, who seemed to have the elements at their disposal. This event was indeed so favorable to them, that it caused the attack of the fort to be abandoned, and some French, as well as several Savoyards thought they should be swallowed up by those floods, which they call lavanches, and escaped almost miraculously over frightful precipices, and by leaping from rock to rock for about three hours, having the snow sometimes up to their arm-pits for half an hour together; which was succeeded by a terrible snow, which would have buried them, had they not at last found shelter in a wood. The attack of Balsile had no happier a success for the French; so that as on one side; there has been nothing but terrors and abundance of difficulties, so on the other, trouble, fright, loss, and bloodshed.”
The Sieur Parat was asked how many there might be in the detachment which made the attack, and he said that there were about 450 men, besides 700 peasants of Pragelas, or of Queiras: but some days after the Vandios, who returned from Pragelas and Perouse, said they had heard that the killed and wounded of the enemy amounted to 400, and that there were 7000 soldiers, and 700 peasants.
Thursday, the 4th of May, the enemy, confounded and fatigued, and some of them half dead, principally of those who had been on the mountains during the bad weather, retired into the territories of France, to seek some refreshment; but with a resolution to return, not being able to digest such an affront, and choosing rather to perish than not to come and finish their enterprise. That very day M. Arnaud preached according to his custom, and made so moving a sermon, that his congregation seeing tears run down from his eyes, could not forbear weeping. And as he hinted by the by, with how much integrity they ought to divide the spoil, he had no sooner ended his discourse, but every one brought all the plunder he had taken from the enemy. The whole consisting of arms, clothes, linen, and other things, was exposed to view on the platform of the castle, and the greater part being sold, it produced enough to allow every soldier something; and what remained was distributed to those that were poorest.
And now the curious perhaps will be glad to see the charms, or amulets, or whatever else you will call them, which were found in the pockets of the slain, and which however did not preserve their lives, as they had imagined they would, thinking that these characters, and these invocations would secure them from wounds. The originals of them are preserved, and one is but a manuscript, whereof this is the form and the contents. Agra Batome.
Those who understand these sort of things, may judge whether these charms are capable of rendering a man hard and impenetrable, as many people fancy.
The others are printed on little square bits of paper.
Piscina Christus quae nobis sit Cibus Borrus P. 1690.
Ecce cru cem Domini nostri Jesu Christi, fugite Partes adverse vici leo de tribu Juda radix David. Allel. Allel. ex S. Anton.
De Pad. homo natus est In ea Jesus Maria Franciscus sint mihi salus.
III. Benedictio sanctae Virg.
Maria ad Apostolos benedicat Vos, filii, et totum hunc Mundum Dominus Deus Pater et Sponsus Meus Jesus Christus Filius.
Unigenitus meus Spiritus Sanctus amor meus. Amen. Ex S. Andrea Cretense.
Christus vincit Christus regnat Christus imperat.
Christus ab omni malo me defendat Christus Rex in pace venit Deus Homo factus est verbum Caro factum est Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judaeorum. Qui verbum caro factum est, etc.
R. Habitavit in nobis nascens ex Maria Virgine per ineffabilem pietatem, et misericordiam suam piissimam, et Angelorum sanctorum que omniurn maxime Apostolorum, et Evangelistarum morum Joannis et Mathei Marei et Lucae, Antoni Ubaldi Bernardi, Margaretae et Catharine ipsum quaeso ut dignetur me liberare, et preservare ab omni infestatione sathanae, et ab omnibus incantationibus ligaturis, signaturis et facturis ministrorum ejus, qui cum Patre et Spiritu Sancto vivit et regnat in saeculo saeculorum.
All these billets are printed, excepting the first, which begins with thin word, Piscinia, etc. in a flying paper, with some others like it, under this general title, and with the following marks: Oratio contra omnes tum malificorum tum Daemonum incursus.
That is to say, a prayer against the attacks of persons who use inchantments, and the attacks of devils. And at the bottom there is this approba- tion of the Inquisitor of Turin.
Fr. Bartolomaeus Racca de Palermo Inqu. Taurini vidit, permittitque ut imprimatur.
The French, some days after the retreat, sending ten louisd’ors to M. de Parat, he immediately made a barrack for himself and his surgeon, which cost him four crowns. He would have given the rest of his money to M. Arnaud, who generously refused it; and as he desired to have his liberty upon paying for his ransom, he was answered by the council of war, that they had no need of money, but that they would willingly exchange him for the prisoners who were at Turin: whereupon he let them know, that Monsieur de Rebenac Feuguieres, who was there as ambassador from France, was his intimate friend. The enemy were some days without sending him necessaries, either because they were minded thereby to feign that they did not much care for him, or because they had something else to think upon; and indeed the besieged perceived in a little time after, that they were employing all their care to he able to take an entire revenge of the affront they had received upon their last attack. Monsieur de Catinat did thoroughly meditate this revenge: but as he had to his own disgrace proved the valor of the Vaudois, he did not think it convenient to expose, a second time, his person, and his hopes of the staff of Marshal de France, and therefore left the care and the conduct of it to Monsieur de Feuquieres. A week was hardly passed after the retreat of the French, but returning to the charge, they formed anew the siege of Balsile, whereof they made themselves indeed masters in fourteen days; hot by a wonderful Providence, which can never be sufficiently admired, they did not take the besieged, though they were all they sought. The story is as follows; upon Saturday, the 10th of May, the advanced guard of Cuculion sent a man with advice of the enemy’s coming: upon this news they immediately made all those who possessed the advanced posts return, in order to defend themselves all together. As this was Easter-eve, they had already prepared themselves to receive the holy communion the next day, but finding themselves too much disordered to be able to do it with all the devotion that is requisite; they put off that duty to another day. The enemy came that very night and encamped at Passet. Those who were at Bonnet, descended by the strait of Clapier: there were some also who descended by that of Pis, all marching with beat of drum. They presently formed five bodies, who encamped all separately, in order to encompass the Vaudois all round: the first encamped at Passer, the second at the foot of the mountain near Balsile, the third in the Clos d’Almian, the fourth a little higher, and the fifth in the wood of the castle at Serre de Guignewert; night coming on, they advanced near the ruins of Balsile, and the river, where they raised a redoubt: from whence, as well as from the Clos d’Almian, and from de Lenvers, they did not cease firing, but without doing any other execution than wounding two Vaudois, of whom one died some days after.
Besides a great number of prisoners which they had, they obliged all the soldiers who were not already employed in the intrenchments, or on their guards, to make fascines, and to carry them behind their covering: of both which they made use to facilitate their approaches, and to retain the ground they had gained by parapets, and to make raised ways. Thus the castle was in a little time encompassed around: for as soon as they had gained a foot of ground, they covered it with a good parapet, and did not see so much as the hat of a Vaudois, but they let fly a hundred small shot at it, which they did without running any risk: for they had a covering before them of sacks full of wool, through which the bullets could not pass. At the end of some days they made use of a speaking trumpet, through which they told the Vaudois that they must surrender and capitulate, and they even set up the white flag at the foot of the castle; whereupon a soldier was sent to know more particularly what they demanded. They told that soldier that they had reason to wonder that such a handful of men durst make war against so great a king as the King of France; that i.f they would quit their post, and take passports to retire, they should have them, and 500 louisd’ors apiece besides; that indeed the Vaudois would kill several brave men, but that in the end they should have them all. The enemy improved this time of parley to send provisions and medicines to the said Sieur de Parat, whom the Vaudois carried up within the second wall of the castle, that he might be better secured there; and he wrote to an officer, a friend of his, named Chartogne, telling him expressly, that in order to his liberty there was no need of sending money, but only of asking his royal highness to set at liberty the Sieurs Mottoux and Bostie, ministers, Malonot surgeon, and Martines armourer. The said Sieur Chartogne answered him, that he would give him an account of his commission that night or the next day, when he had spoke with monsieur the Marquis de Feuquieres, who was gone to visit the posts. The marquis upon his return to his quarters in the evening, hearing of the commission of the said Sieur Chartogne, and not willing to hearken to that proposal, either because he did not think it convenient to expose himself to his royal highness’ refusal, or because he had other reasons, he wrote him the following billet: “You may tell those gentlemen that I will come into no proposal for the liberty of Monsieur de Parat, by way of exchange; but am very willing, by way of ransom, such as was usual in the late wars of Germany: besides, they ought to think of avoiding the last extremities; having orders not to quit this enterprise till it be finished; and so if they will enter into proposals on that article, they may do it: but they ought to consider, that we should grant them terms, which they are not to expect after once the cannon has begun to fire. FEUQUIERES.” The Sieur de Chartogne sending this billet to his friend, accompanied it with this which follows: “The Marquis de Feuquieres, who is here, and who has the charge of the siege, has commanded me to let you know, sir, that the gentlemen are to speak more clearly to you than they have hitherto done, concerning the exchange which they demand; because the liberty which might be given to one of his royal highness’ prisoners, could be only got out of the country; it being absolutely in vain to believe that they would let a man enter into a place which they do, not design to quit as long as any one person shall remain in it who is now there. You ought to be persuaded that the Marquis de Feuquieres, who is an old friend of yours, will always do all he can for you. I expect the ointments from Pignerol which you sent for, and as soon as they arrive here, I will send them you:
I have not been able to get any poultry, but I send you four pounds of beef and a sheet of paper.
I am entirely, yours, CHARTOGNE. “P. S. — I send you but one sheet of paper, that you may write upon the backside, and shall do thus every day.”
The Vaudois sent an answer to this, which was worthy of their usual courage; and if any one finds it rash or swaggering, it must be because he does not know them. The Vaudois’ answer to the. proposals made to them by Monsieur de Feuquieres, was as follows: TO ALL THE FRENCH. “Messieurs, “Though you imagine we are very poor, yet we do not want money for the ransom of Monsieur de Parat, our prisoner. We shall permit you to send him necessaries for four or five days, without amusing us every day to go up and down. The proposals which we have now to make, are, that not being subjects of the French king, and that monarch not being master of this country, we cannot treat with any of your gentlemen, and being in the heritages which our fathers have left us from time out of mind, we hope, by the help of Him who is the God of hosts, to live in them, and die in them, even though there should be but ten of us left. If your cannon fire, our rocks will not be frighted at it, and we will hear them roar.”
If the Vaudois showed valor and firmness on all former occasions, they did not show it less in this siege, in which they did not fall asleep; for there passed very few nights wherein they did not make some sallies: amongst others, they made one to the right of the castle, where the enemy were fortifying themselves upon a rock, which commanded it. They fired there upon the French with the muzzles of their guns almost at their backs, and killed several of them, but with greater regret lost Joseph Pelene, who was unhappily killed by one of their own men, because being left behind, he:faltered when, as he was retiring, the sentinel, who did not know him again, called out to him, “who comes there?” They also sent out several parties to go and burn in the Pragelas, and to seek for provisions; several of whom returned laden with bread, and others made great ravages, having burnt, among others, the village of Bourset. Four Vaudois soldiers having discovered that some peasants usually carried provisions to the dragoons, who encamped to the left of the castle, went down and lay in ambuscade upon the high road, between the great camp of the enemy, and that of the dragoons: they killed every one his man, and carried off their charge of bread. The setting up the white flag, and calling to them through the speaking trumpet, to submit either to the king and to Madame Royal (for the French spake only of that princess, and never of the duke) was repeated almost every day; bidding them retire into Switzerland, without tarrying any more in the mountains; and they added, that if Monsieur de Parat had need of any thing, they had but to set up the flag, which was no sooner taken down, but there was always made a prodigious fire on both sides.
Monsieur de Feuquieres seeing that the continual fire of small arms ended only in losing powder and shot, placed his cannon upon the Guignevert, where he had raised batteries: after which he set up the white flag anew, and after that the red one, to let them understand that if they did not surrender before the cannon had begun to fire, they were to expect no quarter: but seeing that these extremities did not shake the Vaudois, he disposed all things for a general assault.
The 13th of May, before day, he ordered some of his troops to advance above the wood of the Clos d’Almian, at the brink of the river behind the rocks, where they remained all day without fire, though it was very cold. The day passed in skirmishing on both sides, and night coming on, they retired, and the Vaudois, who had always made a great fire, began to moderate it, being sensible that they had need to husband their ammunition. Those of the French who were in the mountains, perceiving that they were discovered by the Vaudois guard, affected to go backwards and forwards upon the top of the hills, that thinking them to be but a small number, they might not be much concerned about them: and whilst they thus amused the Vaudois, they raised parapets upon a rock, which was superior to the said corps de guarde, from whence they began to fire upon them with their guns, which wounded but one soldier.
The same night they advanced within pistol shot of that corps de garde, making a great fire, which made them retire lower: during that time two pieces of the enemy’s cannon played with great violence upon a kind of ravelin, which being only of dry wall, they quickly made the sun shine through it.
The next day, the 14th of May, was the day of the great attack, and though Monsieur de Catinat and Monsieur de l’Ombraille had boasted that they should take the Vaudois, without spending a pound of powder, yet the cannon fired upon them by break of day with so great violence, that before noon they had counted a hundred and fourteen discharges, the bullets being from twelve to fifteen pounder, which in a very little time made great breaches in walls which were designed only to resist musket shot. The enemy having seen such an effect, now thought on nothing but to make the assault at three different places. Some went up at Clos d’Almian, others by the ordinary avenue to the castle, and a third detachment by the brook, without regarding the fire of the besieged, nor minding the stones which they rolled down upon them. The small arms of the enemy made a perpetual hail of small shot, and so thick, that the Vaudois had borne above 100,000 of them, when they abandoned the lower intrenchment, but without having any one killed, and without any wounded, except one man. They retired into the intrenchment called the Cheval la Bruze, where they also had some barracks; they were obliged, in order thereto, to pass under the fire of a redoubt which the enemy had raised on the brook bank; but a fog favoring them, they happily passed. They had told Monsieur de Parat, that if the enemy should force them, they should be obliged to kill him; to which he answered, I forgive you my death. And indeed his guard having forsaken him, a Vaudois, who was retiring one of the last, shot him through the head with a pistol; which truly I think was a horrid cruelty in that Vaudois soldier; for I do not propose to justify here all the management of the Vaudois, in case there be any thing which is not within the rules; their name, as venerable as it is on other accounts, not dispensing them from the common weakness of mankind, who are all subject to mistake. Whilst the enemy were searching in all the posts which they had lately abandoned; the Vaudois were thinking only upon means to make their escape: but seeing themselves encompassed all round, the difficulty was how to be able to do it; for if the thoughts of doing it by night flattered them a moment, the great fire which the enemy made from all quarters, appeared to their imagination as an invincible obstacle. In short, they plainly saw that nothing but the hand of God could deliver them out of the hands of their enemies: relying therefore upon the divine Providence, they soon saw that he who had delivered them from so many dangers, had not let them come to such an extremity, but to make them more sensible in what manner he watched for their preservation; and so, just at the fatal moment when he was representing to them a cruel and frightful death, a thick fog arose before night, which would have been too short, and indeed too clear for the execution of their design; and Captain Poulat, who was of Balsile, declaring that he would be the instrument of their escape, they consented to march under the protection of heaven, and under the conduct of that brave captain. This man, who had a perfect knowledge of the country, and of all its roads and by-ways, having by the light of the fire which the enemy made, exactly observed all the posts which they possessed, declared that there was no way that he knew of to escape, but down a ravine or frightful precipice.
In effect, they took that way, defiling softly through the hole, being come to that precipice, they must go down for the most part sliding in a sitting posture, and the others marching with one knee upon the ground, holding by branches of trees, and resting from time to time. Those who first passed, went groping as well with their feet as with their hands, to feel if there were any earth, on which they might safely set foot. Poulat, who was himself the guide of this troop, made them take off their shoes, as well that they might make the less noise, as that they might the better feel when their foot come upon any thing that was able to bear them. In this equipage they passed just by a corps de garde of the French, and at the same time that they fetched a compass, winding, a Vaudois going to help himself with his hands, let fall a little kettle, which rolling down upon the stones, made such a noise that it was heard by a sentinel, who immediately cried out, “who comes there?” But the kettle, you may be sure, giving no answer, the sentinel believing he had been mistaken, did not repeat his who comes there? In the meantime the Vaudois still gained ground, clambering the lower part of the mountain Guiguevert, and drawing towards Salse; it was already two hours day-light when they ascended by steps, which they had cut in the snow. Then the enemy who were encamped at Lautiga, under the rock, where the Vaudois had placed the corps de garde of the mountain, discovered them on Thursday, the 15th of May, and called out that the Barbettes were making their escape. They immediately sent a detachment after them: but the Vaudois descended to Pausette de la Salse, on the side of the mountain, where they rested, in order to gain a little strength by help of soups they made there. They did so at Rodoret, whither they afterwards went, and they had no sooner resumed their march, but they perceived the said detachment of the enemy, which descending very diligently, took the way to Rodoret.
Seeing their design, they went up to the top of the mountain de Galmon, between Rodoret and Prals, where they halted for about two hours, in which time they made a review of their troop, and sent the sick and the wounded into a balm, called the Vailon, with the surgeon of the said Monsieur Parat, under the guam of those who were last wounded. After which they descended with great expedition towards Prals, and went and lay in the wood of Serre lemi, expecting the night. In the meantime a fog having happily filled the air, they began to march again, and went to the cassage called la Magara, where they did not arrive till after it was night, though it was but a quarter of a league’s march, and were sufficiently mortified to find, when they came there, that there was not so much as any water there wherewith to make their pot boil: but heaven seeing their want, and having compassion on them, sent them rain, which was as great a relief to them in this their confusion, as it would have been inconvenient and noxious in many other rencounters.
Friday, the 16th, having thoroughly quenched the fires they had made, lest the enemy, which were at Rodoret, or perhaps upon the top of Galmon, should, by that means, discover them, they resumed their march, and came to Prajet, where they hid themselves in the barns, without daring to kindle any fire; Monsieur Arnaud having there made an excellent prayer, they sent a man to get intelligence concerning the enemy, whom they heard discharging their arms, probably because they were wet. This man brought word that they were still at Rodoret; however, having sometime after perceived, that some of them descending directly to Prals, and others marching as if they were coming straight to them, they thought it convenient to take the advantage of the fog which seemed to rise on purpose to favor them. But as this fog was dispersed from time to time, the Vaudois in the intervals sat down, and even lay flat with their bellies upon the ground, that they might not be discovered by sentinels, which the enemy might have placed on the top of Serre de Galmon. This happened very often, and till they had lost sight of the said Serre de Galmon. At length they came into a very bad country, which they passed through, ascending near the mountain of the White Rock, whence very fine marble is taken. They descended thence, and went to lodge at Fayet, where they arrived at midnight, very much fatigued with the bad ways which they had passed with incredible difficulty, having been obliged to hold incessantly by branches of trees, to prevent their falling down the precipices which threatened them. The next day, being the 17th, they raised the picket, and were no sooner arrived at the mountain of Turin, at Rioudaret, but they discovered that their track was followed by the enemy, who were already come to Pouet, which obliged them to move without delay to Pramol, with a design to get provisions at Angrogne: but having heard that without going any farther, there were cattle enough at Pramol, they made three detachments to go thither; and one of these detachments having descended to the village de la Rua, brought thence cows, goats, and sheep. As all the inhabitants, and all those who were in that village, had retired and intrenched themselves in the churchyard, they attacked them so vigorously, that they forced them thence, though Monsieur de Vignaux, who commanded them, had express orders not to abandon that post, which he himself showed to Monsieur Arnaud, when he surrendered his sword to him, and told him, that his royal highness had but till Tuesday following to resolve in, whether he would still side with France, or embrace the interest of the allies. They took prisoners in this action, besides the said Sieur de Vignaux, three lieutenants; and the enemy left fifty-seven dead on the spot, and had the mortification to see the village burnt. As for the Vaudois, they had three men wounded, and as many killed. After this expedition, they went and lodged at Humian, a village half a league from thence.
The next day, being Lord’s day, the 18th, they went up the mountain of Angrogne, and those who marched foremost, were no sooner upon the top of it, but the inhabitants having discovered them, gave the alarm, which made them return. Thinking it convenient to go and plunder some other height of the same mountain, and stopping at some houses of a neighboring hamlet, they were greatly surprised, but at the same time greatly rejoiced, to see and hear that the Sieurs Parander and Bertin, as envoys from the Baron de Palavicin, came to proclaim peace to them from his royal highness, offering to give them provisions even upon the spot. Indeed they were no sooner arrived at Pradel Tourn, a ruined village, but two other persons came to tell them that the Chevalier de Vercellis, commandant of the fort de la Tour, desired to speak with some of their officers; to which they answered, that if he would come the next day to the same place where they were, he would find some of their people there; and improving this opportunity, they engaged the said Sieur de Vignaux to write to monsieur the Baron de Palavicin, to desire him to send a surgeon with salves to dress the said three lieutenants, who had been made prisoners and wounded at la Rua de Pramol. And now let us for a moment leave our poor fliers from Balsile, in their joy and glory, to see their enemies reduced to offer them peace; let us, I say, leave them to take breath, in hopes to see their troubles at an end; and instead of entering into the new embarrassment, which they underwent till the authentic declaration of peace with their prince, let us take the opportunity of this interval, to consider the consternation of the French, who being quite confounded, could not digest the affront of having been at so great pains to take the nest, and to see the birds escape, maugre the snares they had placed for them on all sides.
As the conquest which Monsieur de Feuquieres endeavored to make, was not so much to render himself master of Balsile, as to make himself at length sure of the persons who were in it, and intending thereby to signalize himself, his hopes were no less than to raise his glory above that of Monsieur de Catinat; one may thence imagine what a great mortification it must be to him, when entering into the last intrenchment of Balsile he found nothing there but ruined barracks and points of rocks, which by their number and their figure, have given that place the name of the Mountain with Four Teeth. It was to him as the stroke of a thunderbolt, which stripped him of the title of Subduer of the Barbettes, wherewith he had been forestalled, and particularly amongst others, by the governor of Pigne-rol, in a letter which he wrote to him, and which, having been intercepted, very well deserves a place here. “Pignerol, May 11, 1690. “You mistake, sir, when you think that your letters are troublesome to me: I never am more rejoiced than when I receive them, which joy will increase when I shall know you to be the Subduer of the Barbettes, who I find are very insolent. I have this day had certain advice that there have been but two of them dangerously wounded, and some others slightly: but they find it so difficult to come into their forts from foreign countries, that if you should shut them up but a little closer, their commerce would quickly be cut off. 402 muskets are now arrived at Perouse, the rest will be there to-morrow betimes, if one can but obtain the mules of the artillery, which will not depart hence till a new order comes. You will have them tomorrow at Macel, where you must send to take them: 700 flints have been sent to the dragoons; I will search for some tomorrow in the town, and if there are none we will think of having some brought from other places. I just now received a letter from Monsieur de Catinat, wherein he writes as follows: — We were ready to enter into war, as you may have heard: but this morning I sent a letter to his royal highness’ court, expressed in such suitable terms, that I thought we ought to continue to live as we had done, in expectation of other orders.
This letter was brought to me this morning, an hour after day-light, by the Marquis de Granerie, his royal highness’ minister; you see that this prince, better counselled than heretofore, enters into his true interests. This change may probably contribute to the exchange of M. de Parat. “Perigord and Robeck depart hence tomorrow, the Swiss and the artillery remain, Vexin and Pavins go to Macel, the dragoons of Granmont and of Languedoc, to Pancaliet: and all this may possibly change before tomorrow night, not doubting but the courier despatched by his royal highness a week ago, will bring back the olive-branch. They write from Paris of the 2d, that Heighdelberg is besieged. The death of Monsieur de Lorrain, and the taking of that place, wherein are all the imperial stores, both of provisions and ammunition, will mightily break their measures.
I am, Sir, entirely yours, BROVILLI D’HERVILLE” This is the manner in which the letters from Turin have spoken of the surprising evasion of the Vaudois. “The French have driven the Hugonots from their forts, the cannon having beat down their intrenchments of dry stone; they made their escape in the night, defiling between two French corps de garde: but through a place so steep, that they had posted nobody there, thinking it impossible for any one to pass that way. They served for bridges one to another, and are come into the valley of Lucerne.
The lieutenant-colonel was found fresh killed.”
This piece of a letter does naturally and succinctly express the thing as it happened, but you will fully see in that which follows, how the enemy have described it. A copy of a Letter, written from the Mountain with Four Teeth, by the Lieutenant-Colonel of the regiment of Bournazet, May 15, 1690. “I arrived here with the troops in the evening, after twenty-four hours’ march over horrible mountains. One must have gone over them to know how rugged and inaccessible they are. As I arrived at the cliff of the strait Del Pis at break of day, I heard two great guns, which Monsieur de Bour-nazet fired from the top of the Mountain with Four Teeth, and which was the signal of M. de Clerambaud’s attack. His grenadiers at the same time attacked the first fort of the top of the mountain, where our people found no great resistance. The Barbettes retired from their first fort without firing a gun, we drove them from rock to rock, which is what they call their forts: Monsieur de Clerambaud made himself master of five or six of these forts with the loss of four prisoners, who were of our regiment, and some grenadiers wounded. The Barbettes retired into their sugar-loaf, which is a kind of little platform; where twelve or fifteen men may stand, with a little hut in a rock, which would hold eight or ten, such was the attack of the height.
That below was made by M. d’Apremont, lieutenant-colonel of Cleramband: he carried, without great resistance, what they Gall the castle, and the Barbettes retired into their pye; from whence they made very great fires. However, the said Monsieur d’Apremont made himself master of it. This attack cost us three lieutenants or sub-lieutenants of Clerambaud, and of Lasarre, some lords, and eighty or a hundred soldiers; it was in this pye that Monsieur de Parat, lieutenant-colonel of Artois, was detained prisoner, he was killed the very moment that they found themselves hard pressed, having been stabbed with a bayonet: I spoke with a sergeant of Cleram-baud, who found him yet warm, in a cazernette, with the two Barbettes who had killed him, who were sacrificed by our people, as well as a woman who was with them in this pye. The Barbettes retired still from intrenchment to intrenchment, firing from time to time. Monsieur d’Apremont drove them as far as the sugar-loaf, and intrenched within musket shot of it, taking a prisoner, who gave notice to Monsieur de Feuquieres, they thought of making their escape in the night:
Monsieur de Feuquieres immediately gave notice of it to Monsieur de Clerambaud by a letter which he wrote to him at 9 o’clock in the evening; but the letter was not delivered till the next day, so that before Monsieur de Clerambaud had received that advice we saw the Barbettes upon the top of a mountain over against that where they had been intrenched; for they had made their escape in the night, and at a time when we waited only for the day to assault the sugar-loaf, wherein they were. Day being come, and Monsieur d’Apremont having made some soldiers advance towards the pye, they entered it and were mightily astonished to find nobody there; for they had not in the least perceived the evasion of the fugitives, though we had already discovered them on the top of the mountain, because indeed our quarters were in a part that was higher than that of the Four Teeth. We immediately gave Monsieur de Clerambaud advice of the flight of the Barbettes, who judged rightly that they were too far, advanced for us to reach them: the prisoners said they were still 400 strong. They went out of their sugar-loaf, and rolled abundance of stones in the night down this side, to render it impracticable; I speak of the pye; we have orders to fill up all the works that are in the mountain: Monsieur de Feuquieres, after having given all necessary orders to cut off the Barbettes, as well by the peasants as by the troops which are in the valleys, where it is judged they may be, has made the regiment of Clerambaud descend from the mountain, and has commanded ours to be posted there, and to observe the Barbettes, after whom he has detached Monsieur de Poudens with a regiment. “I have been just now assured that Monsieur de Feuquieres has received news that the Barbettes have burnt a village in the valley de Carboniere, that they are there at present invested by some peasants, and by some dragoons of Savoy, and that Monsieur Poudens is not far from them: Monsieur de Feuquieres is ordering two companies of grenadiers to march with a detachment of 300 or 400 men.”
The circumstances of this letter, which says that M. de Feuquieres gave M. Clerambaud advice of the flight which the Vaudois had projected, joined to the rodomontade of the French, who every where published, and even with sound of trumpet, that those who were minded to see the end of the Vaudois, and to see them hanged up by two and two, had no more to do but to come the next day to Pignerol, does abundantly heighten the wonderful part of the event. Nor was there ever any thing more shameful for the enemy than when, instead of seeing the Vaudois brought to Pignerol, they, on the contrary, saw chariots come in full of wounded.
But we have said enough of the flight, let us return to those who fled.
After having said that the loss sustained at the two attacks of Balsile was only of Joseph Pelene, Peter Bertinat, John Lautaret, who was sick at Bobi, John Jesan de la Tour wounded in his knee, the brother of Captain Polat of Macel, who lost one eye by sickness, with some wounded, and James Peiran, who had a sore thigh, and being taken, was carried to Monsieur de Feuquieres, who commanded, and who, in order to make him confess all he knew of the Vaudois, and where they designed to retire, treated him so inhumanly, that he permitted them to burn his feet in a slow fire. This Peiran had already given proofs of his zeal in a former war, being one of those to whom the Duke of Savoy had granted passports to retire to Geneva and Switzerland, that that troop, which consisted but of twenty-five men, who remained in the valley of St. Martin, might no longer disturb the prince’s people.
To return to the Vaudois, whom we left in the agreeable hopes of an entire and perfect peace with their sovereign prince, they went and en, camped the 19th of May, at the Alps la Buffe, where the Chevalier de Ver. cellis, whom they expected, did not meet them. They there divided their plunder, which consisted in cows, goats, and sheep; the rest they sold, and all the soldiers received some of the money. The surgeon came, whom Monsieur de Vignaux had sent for, but as he would have gone back after he had dressed the wounded, they let him know that he must tarry with them, as had been before agreed among the officers who were prisoners, till such time as they should be exchanged for those whom they had before demanded for Monsieur Parat, viz. for two ministers, the surgeon and the armorer. They were without bread till the 24th, and a Vaudois soldier having killed a partridge, with a single ball, made a present of it to M.
Arnaud, who having broiled it upon a slate, gave to each of the four prisoners a piece of it, saying to them, today we eat partridge without bread, and time may come, when we shall eat bread without partridge, which indeed very often happened. At length, just when they knew not where to get a piece of bread, they had the comfort to see the Sieurs Parander of St. John, and Bertin of Angrogne arrive, who demanded forty or fifty men to go and fetch bread from Monsieur Gautier’s farm, who was Monsieur Arnaud’s brother-in-law. But as they said they must go by night, this condition gave room to suspect that some ambuscade might be laid to catch them. Therefore M. Arnaud ordered the two captains, who commanded those fifty men to let but five men go into the house, whilst the others should stay without, to prevent all misfortune; and when those five men should have searched every where, and taken their load of bread, to send in ten others, and then twenty, till all should be loaded, which was done accordingly; and the bread being happily arrived, was divided among them.
The French who remained the only enemies of the Vaudois, made two detachments, the 21st, one of which descended below Pradel Tour, and the other went up to the Vandelin, a mountain below la Tour; the Vaudois, on their part, made two also to observe them, and they even killed some of the soldiers of the enemy’s first detachment. That very day a soldier of Nieufchatel, named Lorange, came, and surrendered himself to the Vaudois, assuring them that he had a long time designed to come and join them, and that in order thereto he had placed himself in the troop of Captain Bourgeois. The second detachment of the Vaudois made so seasonable an attack, that they brought off sixty or seventy muskets, with as many coats: and thus the thing happened; the French having posted themselves upon a height, the Vaudois posted themselves on another, and leaving a dozen fusileers in it, with order to amuse the enemy, by firing from time to time, they, under favor of a fog, made so successful a tour, that surprising the French, they poured in upon them, and cut them all in pieces, except twelve, who, rolling down into a little valley, where there was. still snow on the ground, escaped maimed, without hats, and without arms, and carried the news of the defeat of their detachment to Pignerol. The two detachments of the Vaudois joining, went up higher, and rested at a place called les Jasses, whence they discovered the French, who were ascending to go towards Bobi: this discovery made them stop at Balmadan, where they had some wounded, and particularly the prisoners, whom they had taken at Pramol, there they again divided their little plunder. The next day, being the 22d, as they were eating some soup, made with violets and wild sorrel, they saw the enemy advance again; they went arid got above them, and fought all day in different places, because the French being still enraged to have missed of them at Balsile, had made and sent detachments on all sides to be avenged of them, and at length to exterminate them.
M. de Clerambaud not yet knowing that the Duke of Savoy was become the Vaudois’ friend, and being at the head of a detachment, would go to get refreshment at the town de la Tour, which was barricadoed and guarded by Piedmontois; but he was mightily surprised when the garrison obliged him to lay down his arms, and to surrender himself and all his people prisoners. After which he was carried and presented to the prince. Some four or five days being passed without any adventure, a Vaudois detachmerit, who had been prevented by the enemy from returning sooner, after having beat the country towards Angrogne, at length rejoined at la Combe de Charboners, or val Guichard beyond Bobi, where they had all together the comfort to hear a letter read which the Baron de Palavicin wrote to the governor of Mireboc, which ordered, among other things, that the Vaudois should be suffered to pass and repass freely, since his royal highness was the Religionaries’ friend, and had broken with France.
The 3d of June they had the farther satisfaction of seeing one of their detachments return sixty strong; and the joy was so much the greater, because they had looked upon those people as lost. This detachment having rejoined the main body of the Vaudois, gave them an account, that they had heard there were 12,000 regular troops at the last attack of Balsile, and 14,000 peasants of Pragelas, of Briancon, an.d of Sesane. The same day, the 3d of June, the enemy made a detachment of 600 men, which, after having passed the strait of Julien, went to encamp at Serre de Cruel: thence they would have made some companies enter into Bobi, but the Savoyard garrison, which were there refused them the gate, giving them however the guides they demanded.
The next day, the 4th of June, the French having heard that there was a main body of the Vaudois at Palmador above Villar, marched diligently all the night, in hopes to surprise them there: but the break of day having betrayed them, the Vaudois put themselves into a disposition to give them a handsome reception. In short, they fought vigorously all day, without any loss but of two men killed and two wounded; the enemy did not come off with so small a loss; for though the exact number of their dead, or of their wounded could not be certainly known, yet it was well known that they had several of both.
The Vaudois had it afterwards confirmed that his royal highness had declared war with France, and the French, who were in the valleys, knowing nothing of it as yet, brought their wounded and their sick to la Tour, whence they were immediately carried prisoners to Salseces. His royal highness’ militia abandoned at the same time Bobi, and Villar; and M. Arnaud received orders to go with his people and take possession of them, with advice that they had left provisions there, but which happened to be but a very small matter; for the Savoyards had left only what they could not carry off, and had even let the wine run out. As the Vaudois had dismissed the said Sieur de Vignaux, with the lieutenants, and the surgeon, whom they had prisoners, upon a promise given that Messieurs Bastei, Mottoux, Malanot, and Paul Martinet should be sent back to them; they had the joy to see these four persons return. Some days after, they had orders sent them to send fifty men to Crussol to fetch bread. They had also been bid to fetch meal from la Tour: but the commissary of the stores at that place, who probably had not yet recovered good will enough towards the Vaudois, refused it them, though he had then above 100 sacks by him, and above 1000 full of grain. His royal highness having ordered his troops to blow up the fort of la Tour, and to abandon that post, they set themselves actually about the execution of that order, but the mines made for that purpose proved all false, which made them judge that the miner was a pensioner of France, which seemed more likely, because the French retired thither, as well as to Lucern, and to St. Jean, after having burnt several villages.
Affairs going still better and better for our Vaudois, and Bobi being again become their habitation, they presently had the satisfaction to see Captain Pelene and David Mondon arrive there with twenty others, all coming out of the prisons of Turin; their joy redoubled and became general, when Captain Pelene told them, among other very obliging things, that his royal highness had assured them, that he would not hinder them from preaching every where, even in Turin itself.
The Baron de Palavicin, who commanded his royal highness’ troops in that country, having designed to fall upon the French which were in Val Queiras, sent order to the Vaudois to make a great detachment of their men, to attack on one side, whilst he should do the same on the other.
They desiring nothing more than to signalize their fidelity to their sovereign, detached 300 men, who departing on Sunday, the 18th of June, went and lay at Passet du Prat, and from thence, after Monsieur Arnaud had said prayers with them, went to the strait of la Croix; being there they sent a captain with twelve soldiers to get intelligence, and to observe the countenance of those of Abries, in the territory of France, as well as to have advice of the moment when the said Baron de Palavicin would make his descent, and having notice of it, they advanced with speed. When they were in sight of the village near Ristolas, they perceived that all the inhabitants were running off with their cattle, on the greatest part of which they seized: after which they forced the enemy, who were in Abries, and had retired into the church, from whence they made so great a fire, that the Vaudois lost Captain Griz and five other men, and had three or four wounded, amongst whom was another captain, whom they saved with great difficulty, when, after having burnt the town of Abries, they retired in the evening to Ristolas, to l’Eschalpe, and to la Monta, from wherrce they returned the next day to Passes du Prat, and the 20th to Bobi, where they divided their plunder amongst their companies; and each one having, among other things, a mule, they appointed five of them to serve as well for common carriage as for the volunteers: and the rest were presented and given to his royal highness.
The Chevalier de Vercellis, who has been before spoken of, coming to see the Vaudois, he was made their deputy, together with Monsieur Arnaud, to go and treat with the Baron de Palavicin, Concerning several things relating to the public good; they returned Thursday, the 22d, bringing word that the said baron had assured them that with a re-enforcement of 2000 men, who were to come, they should be in a condition to compass all their designs, without disturbing or pillaging the peasants any more; provided that they on their part would also stand by inactive. The said 22d clay, all those of la Tour who had changed their religion, came to join the Vaudois, and having placed themselves in ambuscade at la Tour, they took several prisoners; Friday, the 23d, a detachment, which went the day before to Peirala upon some design, returned to Bobi; and Saturday, the 24th, they went to Jeimet, to support those of Mondovi, who had invested the fort St. Michel. Sunday, the 25th, after having heard a sermon delivered by Monsieur Bustle, in a court-yard of a farm in the village where they had lain, they made two detachments, one of which went to the town of la Tour, and the other to Atralbianc, to second the first in case of need; they entered into the town de la Tour, under the fire of some of the cannon of the fort, which did no execution. They did not spare the inhabitants, because they endeavored to escape; carrying their effects into the fort, crying out, “God bless France,” though they were Savoyards and Piedmontois. The French having at the same time made a detachment from St. John’s, and a sally from the fort, with a design to shut in the Vaudois who were in the town, managed this enterprise so dexterously that they were very near carrying their point, because those who were at Atralbianc, and who ought to support the Vaudois, did not come speedily enough to their relief: however, they came off with only abandoning their post, and with a slight wound, which Captain Odin received in his arm, though they came to so close an engagement as to fire upon one another within pistol shot. The enemy indeed have said that they had but one captain, and three or four soldiers killed, and a lieutenant wounded; however, it has been known for certain, that they had nine killed, and fifteen wounded in that action; after which perceiving that the town might cause the loss of the fort where they were, they burnt it, and the Vaudois retired to Bobi, where, on Tuesday, the 27th, they received six prisoners, whom a detachment sent in: these prisoners were Luganois masons sent from Pignerol to the fort de la Tour, to work upon it. They discovered that they had been at Balsile on the same account.
Wednesday, the 28th, Captain Friquet returned from Pragelas, whither he went three days before with nine of his soldiers. He brought with him from thence a courier of France, with his portmanteau full of letters, several of which were for the king’s own affairs, and the rest for officers and soldiers. When they took him, they would have killed him, but he made them so many protestations that he would be faithful to them, and that he would live and die with them, his father, as he said, having.been of the reformed religion, that they gave him his life. They sent a captain to the Baron Palavicin, to inform him of this prize; Monsieur Palavicin having ordered the mail to be brought him, Monsieur Arnaud, Major Odin, and Captain Friquet went together, to carry it to the said Sieur Palavicin, and afterwards to his royal highness, during which time the Vaudois enjoyed some rest at Bobi, not wanting provisions, because all provisions and wares that were necessary to the life and convenience of mankind were brought thither to be sold. But all these comforts, which regarded only their temporal concerns, did not prevent their having some uneasiness for what regards their spiritual. They had at length the satisfaction to hear from M. Arnaud’s mouth, when he returned from the army, the agreeable confirmation of the favorable intentions of their sovereign prince, and of the Christian discourse he had made to the Vaudois prisoners, when he gave them their liberty, speaking to them after this manner. “You have but one God and one prince to serve. Serve God and your prince faithfully. Hitherto we have been enemies, henceforwards we must be good friends. Others have been the cause of your misfortunes: but if you expose your life for my service, as you ought to do, I will also expose mine for you; and as long as I shall have a piece of bread, you shall have a part of it.”
His royal highness spoke the more seriously, because he was in the heat of his declaration against France. We shall not here speak of the just reasons he had to take this course; their differences having nothing in common with the war of the Vaudois. It may suffice to observe only by the by, that God, by a surprising Providence, not only separates these two powers, but even permits them to turn the same arms one against another, which they before employed against the Vaudois, and that just at the time, when, after so many toils and difficulties, they were just in view of taking the Vaudois nation, and exterminating them for ever.
But how these poor people, but noble warriors, having surmounted all the obstacles which had aftrighted others, and being all at length crowned with laurels, enjoyed their heritages, and are become friends with their greatest enemies, one may best see by a letter which Monsieur Arnaud wrote at that very time to Monsieur Torman, governor and bailiff of Aigle, in Switzerland, who having heard of the happy success of the Vaudois, had sent an express to him to know their true circumstances: the letter is word for word as follows: “Turin, July 5, 1690. “My Lord, “I have received the letter wherewith you was pleased to honor him who has an infinite esteem for you: I see that you have always very Christian and very generous sentiments, and that you are in pain to know exactly how things go with us: this is our true state; we are in the most perfect union in the world with his royal highness, Monsieur Odin our major, Captain Friquet, and I have been together, to conduct to the prince’s camp, which is at Moncalier, with the Spanish, Imperial, and Milanese troops, the courier which we took nine leagues in Dauphiny, who was carrying letters, by which we have discovered mysteries of the last consequence. His royal highness gave us a very handsome reception, and has assured us of his protection, and that of all the league. The Count de Louvigny, who commands for Spain, has said the same to us. His royal highness leaves us at full liberty, he wished the country may be repeopled; we hoped that all the people would consequently come this way: however we have seen nobody yet. I am riding post with the prince’s courier, which was given me to go and meet the troops which are to come by the Milanese: all ours are at Bobi and Villars; their flying camp consists of eighty men, who are upon the scout as far as Briancon: we want troops, and I know you will most assuredly contribute all that is in your power towards the re-establishment of our poor churches, especially seeing all the great miracles which God has done for these ten months, to uphold them: nobody but he will ever know the hardships we have had, as well as the horrible combats, wherein we have been so frequently engaged, and our enemies have not been able to compass their design: on the contrary, when they cried, “it is done, we have them,” the great God of hosts still gave us the victory. Besides that, my lord, consider that we have not lost thirty men in those combats; though our enemies have lost 10,000. I write to you at midnight, not having time to write to my wife, who should be at Neufchatel: be so kind as to give my love to her, and to embrace, in my behalf, Monsieur Perrot, the pastor; Monsieur Sandos, the counsellor; and Monsieur Leger, at Geneva, to whom I wrote by the last opportunity. I exhort and pray all the refugees, and others, who love the advancement of the kingdom of the Son of God, to join with us: they will want neither lands, nor money, nor goods, for the time is come that the holy Sion must be rebuilt. I have passed for a rash and an imprudent man: however, the event shows that God has prospered all our affairs, and poor Arnaud is among the generals, beloved of all those who heretofore could have eaten him.
This is God’s work, to whom alone be the glory of it; I pray to him for your preservation, and that of all your illustrious family embracing with my heart those who love you in the Lord, and am faithfully, My, Lord, your most humble And most obedient servant, HENRY ARNAUD , Pastor at la Tour.”
And thus I have gone through that remarkable history of the return of the Vaudois, and of their re-establishment in their own country, against the united forces of the French king, and the Duke of Savoy; extracted out of the history of Monsieur Arnaud, pastor and colonel of the Vaudois. And remarkable enough it seems, should we only consider the obstacles which those good men met with even from their best friends, who did the utmost they could to baffle their attempt, as in all human appearance the most impracticable in the world, and such as would entirely ruin the remains of those poor people: and still more remarkable it appears in the whole conduct of the affair afterwards, when both in their march over the most impassable mountains, and in their own valleys, they had to deal with the most enraged enemies, both before and behind, and those so powerful as France and Savoy. On all these accounts, this return of the Vaudois seems to be a piece of history not unworthy the notice of the most curious, but if we shall farther reflect on the extraordinary hand that Providence seems to have had in it (besides that it is understood by some, to have been a completion of a very remarkable prophecy in Scripture,) there will be found in it, what will as well gratify the most pious, as the most curious reader; and to create a greater attention to the whole; I shall therefore crave leave to close this narrative with the anther’s own reflections upon it.
CHAPTER - 4
Of the disunion and discord between the King of France and the Duke of Savoy, which caused the re-establishment of the Vaudois in their own country, by order of their Prince, and of the wonders that God wrought for their re-establishment.
THE Duke of Savoy seeing that the allies were in a condition to succor the Vaudois, and that the Emperor and King of Spain solicited him to take their part, he thought that in declaring himself neuter, he might hinder the intended succours; but the court of France, which till then was mistress of the Duke of Savoy, and his estate, would not hear of neutrality, and would have the duke declare wholly for France; and to oblige him to it, the king demanded of him, for the better assurance all his troops, and that he would put into his hands the citadel of Turin and Verceil, that he might in them lay up magazines, and all sorts of ammunition; hoping that the duke would rather declare for France, than submit himself to so hard conditions; but seeing that the duke demurred and was dubious, he made Catinat march with sixteen thousand men towards Piedmont, with orders to enter into it, and constrain the duke to do what was demanded.
The Duke of Savoy considering that if the King of France had garrisons in the citadel of Turin and in Verceil, and that if all his troops were in the service of France, that that king would not only be master of his estate, but also of his person, he desired time to give in his answer to the king: he offered him at the same time three thousand men of his best troops, viz. a thousand horse and two thousand foot for an assurance of the neutrality, and in the interim he sent to the allies to be secure of their succours, in case he were attacked by the French. The Spaniards being his next neighbors, by reason of the dutchy of Milan, offered him eight thousand men in case the French fell upon him. The haughtiness with which France treated him, caused him to embrace the part of the allies, and he entered into divers treaties with them, especially with the Emperor and the King of Spain; and being re-enforced with the troops of Spain, that were in the dutchy of Milan, he declared war against France, and commanded Catinat, who was general of the French army, to be gone out of his dominions.
We are to consider that the Duke of Savoy is a prince of the empire, that the emperor and his allies were powerful and his neighbors, above all Spain, and that they might do him great harm in succouring the Vaudois, as their interest obliged them; because they were neighbors of France, and that by their means they might make a great diversion by making excursions into the Delphinate, which is a province of France near the valleys, where there were great store of protestants who would join with the Vaudois, or at least favor them. And to hinder these excursions, the French would be obliged to keep on foot a powerful army in the Delphinate; the duke likewise knew that the protestant cantons kept a good correspondence with France; and above all the canton of Berne, who had beheaded one of their burghers, for making levys in that canton, without their leave, to aid the Vaudois, and there was no probability that the canton of. Berne would give passage to those that should go to succor the Vaudois. As for the Roman catholic cantons, he was assured that neither the Vaudois, nor any that had a mind to succor them, would otter to pass through their country, because they had seized the Vaudois that had attempted to pass that way, and had delivered them up into his hands: there were none but the Grisons that could favor their passage, but that was not enough to go from the country of the Grisons into Piedmont, they must necessarily cross the whole dutchy of Milan. The duke hoped that in declaring himself neuter, he would hinder the Spaniards from giving passage to the Vaudois through the dutchy, and that France would always assist him, as she had done for the time past, to chase out again the Vaudois that were entered the valleys: it is not to be doubted but that if France had been contented to leave the duke in the state of neutrality that he demanded, but that he would inviolably have kept it, for it was his interest not to break with France. This prince had excellent counsellors, who saw that the King of France had his foot upon the neck of their duke, if I may so express myself. Savoy lay open to the troops of France by the fort of Barraue, which the King of France held, and by divers other places; and that there being but one strong place in Savoy, which is Montmelian, it was easy for the king in a short time to make himself master of all Savoy; and as to Piedmont, the king had Pignerol, but eight leagues from Turin, and at the entrance of Piedmont; and on the other side he had Cazal, and all Monserrat; and the dominions of this prince were surrounded by the territories and strong places of France, and in consequence he could not declare for the allies, without running an evident risk of being ruined.
If the Duke of Savoy had entered into treaty with the allies, before the French army had entered into Piedmont, it is certain that this prince, who wants neither courage, nor conduct, nor good counsel, would have precautioned himself against the attempts of France, would have recalled his troops out of the French service, to employ them against the Vandois, or the Spaniards, in case they had enterprised any thing in the dutchy of Milan; and their arms being joined against the Vaudois, France would not have had the least umbrage of this demand. But where are the treaties that the duke made with the emperor or with Spain? Have any been produced?
All those that are publicly seen are after the French army were entered into Piedmont; and all that is said to excuse France for her conduct towards his most serene royal highness, are impostures, and invented at leisure, without any foundation.
That which has obliged, or rather forced the Duke of Savoy to embrace the part of the allies was, the ill treatment of the King of France, who treated him not as a sovereign prince, but as a little vassal. This haughtiness of France so irritated the duke,. that he chose rather to hazard all, than to do those mean things, and make those submissions that were exacted of him; and in this estate he had recourse to the allies, and to his neighbors, as it is manifest by the letters that he wrote to them, which have since been made public.
The Duke of Savoy being forced to break with France, by reason of the hardships that were imposed upon him; this rupture was the cause of the liberty and deliverance of the Vandois: for having understood that France did solicit them to embrace his part, with offers to re-establish them in the valleys, and giving them liberty of conscience, with free and public exercise of their religion, which would have been very prejudicial to his interest, for instead of one enemy, he would have had two upon his back, and would have been deprived of the succors that the protestant princes promised the Vaudois, and of the considerable service that they might do him, in keeping the passes, and hindering the communication of the troops that were in the Delphinate, with the army commanded by Monsieur Ca-tinat. This prince resolved to draw them to his own party, and to this effect he set at liberty all the Vaudois that were in prison, as well ministers as others; he sent an act of oblivion to all those that were in arms in the valleys, and gave to those that were in foreign countries leave to return home, with necessary passports, with orders to all to turn their arms against the French, whom they must look upon as their true persecutors, and the cause of all their miseries. He had brought before him all those that were prisoners at Turin, and told them that he was touched with a deep sense of their miseries, and commanded them in his presence to be clothed, and to be furnished with all things necessary; he excused himself for handling them so roughly, and cast all upon the King of France, as the true author of all that had befallen them; and because the number of the Vaudois was much diminished, that there were scarce two thousand left after the last persecution, the Duke of Savoy made proclamation, that all those protestants that were fled out of France, that would come and dwell in the valleys, and join themselves with the Vaudois, might do it, and be safe under his protection, and have necessary passports: he ordered likewise that at their entrance into Savoy, both the Vaudois and the French should be furnished with arms, and all things necessary for to pass into the valley, which was punctually put in execution.
The return of the Vaudois into their country, their entrance into the valleys, and their subsisting there for eight months, are so many wonders and miracles. Is it not a miracle that eight or nine hundred should undertake to cross an enemy’s country of fourteen or fifteen days journey, where they must climb up high mountains, force divers strait passes, where a hundred men might not only stop, but beat three thousand? and that which is most astonishing is, that these passes were guarded with great numbers, and more expert soldiers than the Vaudois; they notwithstanding forced all those passes with their swords in their hands, and routed them that guarded them, killing a great number in gaining them, with very little loss on their side.
It is likewise another miracle, that they got entrance into the valleys, the entrances being so difficult, being peopled with Roman catholics, who might have hindered their entrance, being more in number than they, or at least they might have possessed themselves of the most advantageous posts which were in the mountains, and defended themselves easily, till the succors of France and Savoy, which were in readiness, could come and second them; but a dreadful fright from God fell upon them, so that they had neither courage nor conduct to defend themselves against the Vaudois, who without any trouble or resistance chased them out of the valleys: is it not likewise a great miracle, that a handful of people without any commanders experienced in warlike affairs, should subsist eight months in the valleys, and fight nine or ten battles against the army of France and Savoy, who were sometimes twenty, but oftener thirty against one, without being able to drive them out of their fastnesses, having killed more than two thousand of their enemies? So m.any happy successes makes it clear, that the God of battle inspired them with the generous courage of returning into their own country, to kindle again the candle of his word, that the emissaries of Satan had extinguished there, that he marched before them, and fought for them, without which it had been impossible to have forced so:many difficult passes, and gained such signal victories.
The King of England being informed of their design of returning unto:their country, blamed their enterprize, as rash and ill grounded, and looked upon those 900 Vaudois as lost men: the states of Holland were of the same opinion, and refused to assist them, looking upon it as to no purpose; but when they saw, that contrary to the hopes of all the world, they subsisted in the country, until May, 1690, they sent them money, and procured some of the French protestants that were in Switzerland, and the Elector of Brandenburg’s territories, to go and assist them.
If the Vaudois had not been entered into their country and had not generously defended themselves against their enemies, the Duke of Savoy when he broke with France had not thought of setting at liberty those that were unjustly imprisoned, nor of recalling those that were dispersed in foreign countries, and the allies would have contented themselves with the duke’s declaration for themselves, and embracing their party, without troubling their heads about establishing the Vaudois, though driven out against all right and justice.
The conduct of God in the re-establishment of the Vaudois is admirable, and makes it evident that his divine providence has judgment, and ways incomprehensible, surpassing all human understanding. The King of France, in the year 1686, pushed on the Duke of Savoy to compel the Vaudois to forsake their religion, and to take the same measures he had taken against the protestants of France; they joined their arms together to force them, and to compass their design; they violated not only the treaty made with the predecessors of the duke, but likewise all treaties, oaths, and promises made by their generals; took them prisoners, killed and massacred them, violated their wives and daughters, killed their little children, and made use of all sorts of cruelty against these innocent people, after they had laid down their arms; and in the year 1690 God sent a spirit of division between the King of France and the Duke of Savoy, insomuch, that they strove who should first gain the Vaudois to their party; and by this division the Duke of Savoy was forced to re-establish the Vaudois in their rights and privileges, and to set all at liberty that had been imprisoned, and to recall all those that were dispersed in foreign countries; and so the King of France, who had been the principal cause of their ruin, became against his will the cause of their re-establishment, by forcing the Duke of Savoy by his haughtiness, to join with the allies; this shows that God mocks, and derides the designs and counsels of princes, when they are levelled against Jesus Christ and his church; and with the breath of his mouth makes all their enterprises vanish in smoke. Oftentimes he makes use of the enemies of his church to protect and defend it. Henry II., King of France, while he persecuted the protestants of his own kingdom, succoured the protestant princes of Germany against the Emperor Charles V. Louis XIII. did the same against the Emperor Ferdinand II.; and Louis XIV. while he did his best to ruin the protestants in France, succored the protestants of Hungary, against the Emperor Leopold. Henry III., King of France, when he was Duke of Anjou, gave advice in an assembly that was held at St. Clou, to commit the massacre of St. Bartholomew, and when he was King of France, he employed all his forces to finish the destruction of those that remained after the massacre; but while he busied himself wholly, and took the most probable measures to put in execution his wicked designs, God stirred up the Duke of Guise against him, who under the specious pretense of destroying the protestants of France, made a league against Henry, and drove him out of Paris, seized upon his guards, and constrained him to throw himself upon the protestants, and implore their aid and assistance, without which he had been lost; the duke would have put him in a cloister, as Charles Martel did Chilperick III. and seized upon his crown. Henry, in acknowledgment of the services that he had received of the protestants, began to be very favorable to them, gave them places of security, and many other privileges, and appointed Henry de Borbon, who was a protestant, his lawful successor to the crown.
And so God by a secret and unhoped for way, of a cruel and implacable enemy of the protestants, made him against his will their defender and protector. King Henry and the Duke of Guise were both in arms against the protestants, they jointly made war upon them, and equally swore their ruin: God permits they should be divided, and by their division the one to destroy, the other to deliver the protestants, who were sore oppressed and persecuted; almost the same thing happened in the delivery of the Vaudois, God sent the spirit of division between the King of France and the Duke of Savoy, to punish them for the cruel persecution they had raised against the protestants: these two princes were equally their enemies, and had resolved and vowed their destruction; and when their malice was at the highest pitch against these poor innocent creatures, and all things seemed desperate, God Almighty blasted their design, and made them turn their arms the one against the other; to destroy the one by the other, as he destroyed the Duke of Guise, by Henry whom he caused to be assassinated at Blots, in the sight of all France, assembled in the persons of those that composed the states general, and after God had punished the Duke of Guise, for the evils he had done to the protestants, he likewise punished Henry, who was assassinated in the castle of St. Cloy by a friar in the same hall, where the consultation was held, and the massacre of St. Bartholomew was resolved on, of which Henry and the Duke of Guise were the principal counsellors and ringleaders of that horrible butchery.
CHAPTER - 5
Of the two Prophecies of the Scripture, accomplished in the History of the Vaudois of Piedmont, the one contained in the 11th and the other in the 12th chapter of the Revelation.
THE history of the Vaudois shows us clearly the accomplishment of two prophecies of Scripture, the one contained in the 11th and the other in the 12th chapter of the Revelation of St. John. We have made mention of the last, when we showed that the churches of Piedmont have conserved the doctrine of the apostles, in its purity, from the time of the apostles even to our days, and that the Roman church was corrupted in adopting and receiving pagan doctrine and ceremonies, and communicated her corruptions to the other churches of the west, only the churches of Piedmont were preserved pure and undefiled; from whence it follows, by a necessary consequence, that these mountains and valleys were the places assigned by God Almighty for his church, when she fled before the dragon; and this corruption began to infect the church about the beginning of the fifth age (for about the beginning of this age, popery began to triumph over truth)without staining or defiling the churches of Piedmont, who after this corruption were publicly nourished with the bread of the word of God, without any mixture of human traditions, or pagan ceremonies. Now from the time that this corruption began in the church, till the year 1686, that these poor churches were dissipated, are past 1260 years, which are the 1260 prophetic days that the church was to be nourished in the desert, neither the devil nor his imps being able in so long a tract of time by all their craft and subtlety, to introduce their errors into the church; and that which is the greatest proof of this verity, and confirms us the most in this sentiment, that this was the place that God prepared to preserve his church in, is, that neither the Inquisition that the popes have established in Italy, so many ages ago, nor the crusade that Pope Innocent VIII. made to destroy them, nor so many wars that antichrist and his emissaries raised against them; nor so many bloody battles they have sustained, nor so many persecutions and massacres that have been made of them, that professed the truth in these churches, could force them to forsake their faith, or dissipate them, till the year 1686. For it was then that the time of the prophecy was accomplished, in respect of these churches. If God had not prepared this place to preserve his church in, why would he have done such wonders, to make them subsist in spite of the devil and all his works?
How should she have been preserved pure and immaculate among these mountains, if God had not declared himself her protector and defender, and had not fought for her, and with her, and brought to confusion all the plots and frauds of antichrist, who raged like a roaring lion seeking to devour her?
The two witnesses of the eleventh chapter of the Revelation, are the faithful, who after that the church was corrupted, taught either by word of mouth, or by writings, the pure doctrine of the gospel; and confuted the errors that the false doctors introduced into the church, by their fraudulent dealings, and false interpretations of the Scriptures; and it is apparent, by the writings of many protestant doctors, that there has no age passed, in which God has not raised up some holy and learned men, who wrote and preached against these errors from the beginning of the fifth age, till our times. These holy persons are represented to us by the two witnesses, for they borrowed their testimony from the Old and New Testaments, which are the true witnesses and the true treasuries of celestial verity; and with the doctrine drawn out of the Old and New Testaments, they confuted all errors, and confounded the false doctors.
It is said of these two witnesses, that they shall prophesy 1269 days, which are prophetical days, as is apparent by the event, for that false doctrines were introduced into the church in the fifth age; it was then that Innocent I., Bishop of Rome, elevated himself above the other bishops, which they tamely submitted to, he performing the office of universal bishop, in receiving appeals, from the sentences of the bishops of Asia and Africa, and in excommunicating Arcadius the Emperor of the East, who was not under his jurisdiction, but under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople; who likewise declared by a bull, that none should presume to judge the pope: it was in the pontificate of this pope, that the eucharist, or supper of our Lord, began to be called mass, and that Pelagius began in England to sow his doctrine of merits, from whence sprung the doctrines of indulgencies, pilgrimages, celibacy of the clergy, and abstinence from certain sorts of meat; it was about this time that the doctrine, as well as manners of the church began to be corrupted. And if we reckon from the death of Pope Innocent I. till the year 1686, we shall find that 1269 years, the time that the two witnesses were to prophesy, are past. Now the Holy Ghost says, that when they shall have finished their prophecy, and the time that God has allotted to preach and cry out against the errors of the church of Rome, to leave her inexcusable, before he pour out upon her the vials of his just wrath and indignation; it is said, that the beast that rises out of the deep, shall make war against the two witnesses, and shall vanquish them and kill them; now this was fulfilled, first of all in France, and afterwards in Piedmont; in France the witnesses were vanquished and killed by the cruel war, that was made against them; all the ministers were banished, and others that would not abjure their religion, either died under the heavy burden of their sufferings, or were imprisoned, or condemned to the galleys, or driven into perpetual banishment; those that have abjured are dead to heaven, if they do not rise by a serious and true repentance. Perpetual banishments, and imprisonments, according to all the lawyers, are civil deaths; those whom God gave the grace to rise alter their fall, and died in France; their bodies were dragged through the streets, and after they had been publicly exposed, thrown upon the dunghills; in Piedmont, the witnesses were vanquished and killed as well as in France, the ministers some were banged, some imprisoned, others massacred, and those that remained after in the country, were condemned to the galleys, or else to perpetual banishment; some were killed in cold blood, others in endeavoring their escape, lest they should fall into the hands of their enemies, and their bodies left without burial to be devoured by wild beasts: a great number perished in prison, and the remainder were driven into perpetual exile; the true religion was then totally extinguished in the valleys, and in the sad estate that the Vaudois were then, one may say they were killed.
The prophecy says in the second place, that the dead bodies of the witnesses shall lie exposed in the most public place of the city, and that those of the tribes, languages, and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and a half, and shall not permit them to be buried. Those of France, as well as the Vaudois of Piedmont, who escaped the hands of their persecutors, were banished and dispersed in foreign countries, amongst divers nations, people, and languages, and those that kindly received them, hindered their bodies, condemned to death by a perpetual banishment, from being buried and put in the sepulcher, which is a state of corruption and total dissolution of the body, by the great charity they bestowed upon these distressed people; and these nations have seen them in this sad estate of which we have spoke, three days and a half, which are the prophetical days, every day being counted a year, according to the twelve hundred and sixty days of the prophecy.
It is said in the same prophecy, that after these three days and a half the spirit of life coming from God, shall enter into them; and they shall live again; and that great fear shall seize upon them that shall see them, and that they shall hear a great voice from heaven, saying to them, ascend hither, and they shall ascend up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies, to their great confusion, shall see them; this was exactly fulfilled in respect of the Vaudois, who after three years and a half, were as it were revived again, and freed from the miserable estate and condition into which they were reduced by the furious malice of their enemies; for the prisoners were set at liberty, the banished were recalled home, and all by order of their prince, re-established in their country in a better condition than ever. In the year 1686, the Duke of Savoy, at the earnest entreaty of the protestant cantons, freed out of prison the greatest part of the Vaudois, but it was only to send them into banishment in a strange country; but those whom he set at liberty the last June, were sent home in peace, and had greater privileges and advantages given them than ever: he promised to clothe those that he set at liberty in the year 1686, which notwithstanding he did not; but those that he freed after three years and a half he clothed very well; he excused himself to them, was sorry for what had passed, imputed the cause of all their suffering to the King of France. The Duke of Savoy and his predecessors, these two hundred years past, have applied themselves with all their power to dispeople these valleys of protestants, as we have sufficiently related above: but after the three years and a half there has been an extraordinary care taken to people them again with protestants; for the duke has not only re-established the Vau-dots, as well prisoners as exiles, but he has given free leave and encouragement to the protestant refugees of France, to come and inhabit the valleys. The Duke of Savoy, and his council, made use of the wickedest methods imaginable, to destroy the protestant religion in these valleys; but after the death of the witnesses, viz. after the three years and a half, he did not only give free exercise of religion to the valleys, but even in Turin itself, the capital city of his dominions: and this miraculous change happened almost in an instant, to the great confusion of their enemies, who looked upon them as lost men. This shows evidently, that the re-establishment of the Vaudois was the work of heaven, and not of men; for so the prophecy says, “that the spirit of life shall enter into them, and they shall live again.”
The author of the “Fifth Empire,” printed at the Hague, by Meyndert Vytwert, closes with our opinion, and discourses excellently to our purpose, concerning the three years and a half, of the death of the two witnesses. I hope it will not be troublesome to give them his own words, out of the 13th chapter of his book.
The time, says this excellent author, that the two witnesses should remain in the state we have represented them in the preceding chapter, is limited to three days and a half, after which they shall be revived: these three days and a half are prophetical days, as 1250 days are, and every day must be taken for a year; it is not easy to determine whether the three years and a half, after the death of the witnesses, should commence after that the edict of Nantz was cancelled and revoked, and the ministers of France condemned to perpetual banishment, or when the faithful of the valleys of Piedmont, who from the time of the apostles have maintained and concerted the truth among them, were driven out of their country, after which the author gives his sentiment in these words, it is probable that these three years and a half should commence when the churches of Piedmont were destroyed, which were the visible conservers of the truth, that was always preached and professed among them; and after three years and a half were most gloriously re-established; for the Vaudois were not totally driven out of the valleys till about the end of October, 1686. Then those that were hid in the caverns, and rocks, and woods; coming out of their safe and hidden retreats, after the army of France was retreated, and that the troops of Mondovy, and other places of Piedmont were returned into their own country, seized upon some advantageous posts in the valleys of Lucerne and St. Martin, and made excursions upon their enemies, and forced them to furnish them with provisions, and all things necessary; and their enemies not being able to chase them out of those advantageous posts, granted them letters of safe conduct to go into Switzerland. Before the banishment of these, we cannot say that the Vaudois were killed and dead, for that they made their enemies pay contribution. Now they were established by order of their prince in the beginning of June, 1690, three years and a half after their total dissipation; for this was only one month after the three years and a half that were past; so the prophecy speaks not of their re-establishment till this time be completed; and that which is to be considered more exactly is, that in the month of May the Vaudois began to revive, the Spirit of God then entering into them; for having this month received succor from the allies, as well of men as money, instead of their enemies chasing them, they chased their enemies cut of their strong holds; and so we see in them the prophecy fulfilled of the 11th chapter of the Revelation, in the time set down by the penman of that holy mysterious book.
The churches of Piedmont, being the root of the protestant churches, they have been the first established; the churches of France, Hungary, and other places, being but the branches, shall be established in due time. God will not stay to do his own work to the shame and confusion of his enemies; the thing will come to pass in the re-establishment of the protestant churches, that hath been done in the re-establishment of the churches of Israel, those of Judah returned first out of captivity, though they were the last that were transported; but God did not stay long to deliver the rest, though at different times and on different occasions: the same thing without doubt will come to pass in respect of the Christian churches that groan under the captivity of antichrist. God will deliver them speedily, he has already delivered the mother, and he will not long leave the daughter behind, he will finish what he has gloriously begun, and not leave his work imperfect, he will gather together the dispersed churches, and bring back to the fold the sheep that have gone astray; then Israel and Judah shall dwell together in peace, none shall be able to give them the least disturbance.
Since the Vaudois were re-established in the valleys, by order of their prince, they have chased the French out of them; have beaten the Marquiss of Feuquiers, and slain 1500 men of his army, among whom were two colonels, forty captains, and a great number of subaltern officers.
They have sometimes defeated two hundred, sometimes one hundred and fifty dragoons of the King of France, taken several convoys that were going to the army commanded by Monsieur Catinat; have made many excursions into the Delphinate, and have carried away a good booty and several prisoners; one may say without any hyperbole, that the Vaudois in one campaign have damaged the French more than all the allies with their great armies: the great services that they have done the Duke of Savoy, without doubt will oblige him to augment their privileges, and all the allied princes to make a firm and lasting treaty between the duke and the Vaudois, in case that peace be made between France and the allies, of which the protestant princes will be guarantee. I have only extended the history of the Vaudois till the beginning of October, 1690. If they perform any considerable action hereafter, I will continue their history if God give me life and health; to whom be all honor and glory, world without end.
CONCLUSION THE age in which we live is so perverse, and so prevalent is the spirit of incredulity and pride, that many persons will, no doubt, discredit this history.
But, surely, the unadorned and simple style of narration is evidence against any intention to trifle with or impose on the reader. Nor are the facts narrated of so old a date, but that thousands still live who heard of them as they took place. Living witnesses of them are yet to be found among French and Piedmontese, Savoyards, and Swiss.
Reader, your attention has been directed to events scarcely to be imagined.
But, with the Vaudois, you will impute them only to the providence of God, who, to render His presence more visible, chose for His chief instrument in this wonderful struggle a man ignorant of arms or of war, excepting with Satan.
Is it not wonderful that such a person, after escaping the pursuit of those who sought to deliver him to the flames at Constance, should have been able to effect a passage through Savoy, taking as his prisoners the nobles and gentry of the land to be witnesses of the valor and discipline of the Vaudois? Was the victory of Salabertrann less than miraculous, when men, most of whom had never handled a musket, routed 2500 regular troops, killing 600, with a loss, on their own side, of only fifteen?
To what other than a divine cause can be attributed the fear which, on the approach of the Vaudois, caused the disgraceful flight of the usurpers of their possessions, and of the troops who should have protected them?
Who but God, and God only, could have inspired a destitute handful of men with the design of re-entering their country, sword in hand, in opposition to their own prince, and to the King of France, then the terror of all Europe? And who but He could have conducted and protected them in this enterprise, and finally crowned it with success, in spite of all the vast; efforts of these powers to disconcert it; in spite also of the vows and prayers of the pope and his adherents for the glory of the papal standard, and the destruction of this little band of the elect?
And was it not rather Divine Providence, than the ordinary course of nature, that so preserved the grain upon the earth, that the Vaudois gathered the harvest in the depth of winter, instead of the height of summer? 1 Thus did their Canaan, as though rejoiced to see them, present to them a supernatural gift. Is it conceivable that, without divine aid, three hundred and sixty-seven Vaudois confined in the Balsi for six months, existing on vegetables, water, and a scanty allowance of bread, and lodging, like corpses, in the earth, should repel and drive into disgraceful flight ten thousand French and twelve thousand Piedmontese? Or that, after their brilliant defense, they should escape from a second attack, when the French, enraged at the desperate opposition of a handful of men, brought executioners, and mules laden with ropes, to offer up the Vaudois on gibbets as a sacrifice of thanksgiving?
Surely it must be granted that, in all their troubles and dangers, the Omnipotent delivered them, gave them victory in all their battles, supported them when they were faint-hearted, supplied them with necessaries when it appeared that they must be destitute, and finally inspired their prince with the will to reinstate them in their heritage, and suffer them to restore true devotion in their churches. Events so surprising clearly prove that the French and Piedmontese arms were aided only by the deceitful benedictions of Rome — of her who would be God upon earth — while those of the Vaudois were blessed by the great God, who is King of kings, and delegates His scepter to no earthly hands.
Thanks, then, be to the Eternal, who, in selecting the Vaudois as the instruments of such wonders, appears to have sanctioned their religion as that in which He would be served, honored, and obeyed by all the redeemed! Amen.