This being approved, he was tortured with the most exemplary severity,
notwithstanding which they could only get these words from him, "It was the
will of God that I should do as I did."
The pope then passed this sentence upon him.
1. That he should be led by the executioner, naked to the middle, through
the streets of Rome.
2. That he should wear the image of the devil upon his head.
3. That his breeches should be painted with the representation of flames.
4. That he should have his right hand cut off.
5. That after having been carried about thus in procession, he should be
When he heard this sentence pronounced, he implored God to give him
strength and fortitude to go through it. As he passed through the streets he
was greatly derided by the people, to whom he said some severe things
respecting the Romish superstition. But a cardinal, who attended the
procession, overhearing him, ordered him to be gagged.
When he came to the church door, where he trampled on the host, the
hangman cut off his right hand, and fixed it on a pole. Then two tormentors,
with flaming torches, scorched and burnt his flesh all the rest of the way. At
the place of execution he kissed the chains that were to bind him to the stake.
A monk presenting the figure of a saint to him, he struck it aside, and then
being chained to the stake, fire was put to the fagots, and he was soon burnt
A little after the last-mentioned execution, a venerable old man, who had
long been a prisoner in the Inquisition, was condemned to be burnt, and brought
out for execution. When he was fastened to the stake, a priest held a crucifix
to him, on which he said, "If you do not take that idol from my sight, you will
constrain me to spit upon it." The priest rebuked him for this with great
severity; but he bade him remember the First and Second Commandments, and
refrain from idolatry, as God himself had commanded. He was then gagged, that
he should not speak any more, and fire being put to the fagots, he suffered
martyrdom in the flames.
An Account of the Persecutions in the Marquisate of Saluces
The Marquisate of Saluces, on the south side of the valleys of Piedmont,
was in A.D. 1561, principally inhabited by Protestants, when the marquis, who
was proprietor of it, began a persecution against them at the instigation of
the pope. He began by banishing the ministers, and if any of them refused to
leave their flocks, they were sure to be imprisoned, and severely tortured;
however, he did not proceed so far as to put any to death.
Soon after the marquisate fell into the possession of the duke of Savoy,
who sent circular letters to all the towns and villages, that he expected the
people should all conform to go to Mass. The inhabitants of Saluces, upon
receiving this letter, returned a general epistle, in answer.
The duke, after reading the letter, did not interrupt the Protestants for
some time; but, at length, he sent them word that they must either conform to
the Mass, or leave his dominions in fifteen days. The Protestants, upon this
unexpected edict, sent a deputy to the duke to obtain its revocation, or at
least to have it moderated. But their remonstrances were in vain, and they were
given to understand that the edict was absolute.
Some were weak anough to go to Mass, in order to avoid banishment, and
preserve their property; others removed, with all their effects, to different
countries; and many neglected the time so long that they were obliged to
abandon all they were worth, and leave the marquisate in haste. Those, who
unhappily stayed bheind, were seized, plundered, and put to death.
An Account of the Persecutions in the Valleys of Piedmont, in the Seventeenth
Pope Clement the Eighth, sent missionaries into the valleys of Piedmont,
to induce the Protestants to renounce their religion; and these missionaries
having erected monasteries in several parts of the valleys, became exceedingly
troublesome to those of the reformed, where the monasteries appeared, not only
as fortresses to curb, but as sanctuaries for all such to fly to, as had any
ways injured them.
The Protestants petitioned the duke of Savoy against these missionaries,
whose insolence and ill-usage were become intolerable; but instead of getting
any redress, the interest of the missionaries so far prevailed, that the duke
published a decree, in which he declared, that one witness should be sufficient
in a court of law against a Protestant, and that any witness, who convicted a
Protestant of any crime whatever, should be entitled to one hundred crowns.
It may be easily imagined, upon the publication of a decree of this
nature, that many Protestants fell martyrs to perjury and avarice; for several
villainous papists would swear any thing against the Protestants for the sake
of the reward, and then fly to their own priests for absolution from their
false oaths. If any Roman Catholic, of more conscience than the rest, blamed
these fellows for their atrocious crimes, they themselves were in danger of
being informed against and punished as favorers of heretics.
The missionaries did all they could to get the books of the Protestants
into their hands, in order to burn them; when the Protestants doing their
utmost endeavors to conceal their books, the missionaries wrote to the duke of
Savoy, who, for the heinous crime of not surrendering their Bibles, prayer
books, and religious treatises, sent a number of troops to be quartered on
them. These military gentry did great mischief in the houses of the
Protestants, and destroyed such quantities of provisions, that many families
were thereby ruined.
To encourage, as much as possible, the apostasy of the Protestants, the
duke of Savoy published a proclamation wherein he said, "To encourage the
heretics to turn Catholics, it is our will and pleasure, and we do hereby
expressly command, that all such as shall embrace the holy Roman Catholic
faith, shall enjoy an exemption, from all and every tax for the space of five
years, commencing from the day of their conversion." The duke of Savoy,
likewise established a court, called the council for extirpating the heretics.
This court was to enter into inquiries concerning the ancient privileges of the
Protestant churches, and the decrees which had been, from time to time, made in
favor of the Protestants. But the investigation of these things was carried on
with the most manifest partiality; old charters were wrested to a wrong sense,
and sophistry was used to pervert the meaning of everything, which tended to
favor the reformed.
As if these severities were not sufficient, the duke, soon after,
published another edict, in which he strictly commanded, that no Protestant
should act as a schoolmaster, or tutor, either in public or private, or dare to
teach any art, science, or language, directly or indirectly, to persons of any
This edict was immediately followed by another, which decreed that no
Protestant should hold any place of profit, trust, or honor; and to wind up the
whole, the certain token of an approaching persecution came forth in a final
edict, by which it was positively ordered, that all Protestants should
diligently attend Mass.
The publication of an edict, containing such an injunction, may be
compared to unfurling the bloody flag; for murder and rapine were sure to
follow. One of the first objects that attracted the notice of the papists was
Mr. Sebastian Basan, a zealous Protestant, who was seized by the missionaries,
confined, tormented for fifteen months, and then burnt.
Previous to the persecution, the missionaries employed kidnappers to steal
away the Protestants' children, that they might privately be brought up Roman
Catholics; but now they took away the children by open force, and if they met
with any resistance, they murdered the parents.
To give greater vigor to the persecution, the duke of Savoy called a
general assembly of the Roman Catholic nobility and gentry when a solemn edict
was published against the reformed, containing many heads, and including
several reasons for extirpating the Protestants, among which were the
1. For the preservation of the papal authority.
2. That the church livings may be all under one mode of government.
3. To make a union among all parties.
4. In honor of all the saints, and of the ceremonies of the Church of
This severe edict was followed by a most cruel order, published on January
25, A.D. 1655, under the duke's sanction, by Andrew Gastaldo, doctor of civil
laws. This order set forth, "That every head of a family, with the individuals
of that family, of the reformed religion, of what rank, degree, or condition
soever, none excepted inhabiting and possessing estates in Lucerne, St.
Giovanni, Bibiana, Campiglione, St. Secondo, Lucernetta, La Torre, Fenile, and
Bricherassio, should, within three days after the publication thereof, withdraw
and depart, and be withdrawn out of the said places, and translated into the
places and limits tolerated by his highness during his pleasure; particularly
Bobbio, Angrogne, Vilario, Rorata, and the county of Bonetti.
"And all this to be done on pain of death, and confiscation of house and
goods, unless within the limited time they turned Roman Catholics."
A flight with such speed, in the midst of winter, may be conceived as no
agreeable task, especially in a country almost surrounded by mountains. The
sudden order affected all, and things, which would have been scarcely noticed
at another time, now appeared in the most conspicuous light. Women with child,
or women just lain-in, were not objects of pity on this order for sudden
removal, for all were included in the command; and it unfortunately happened,
that the winter was remarkably severe and rigorous.
The papists, however, drove the people from their habitations at the time
appointed, without even suffering them to have sufficient clothes to cover
them; and many perished in the mountains through the severity of the weather,
or for want of food. Some, however, who remained behind after the decree was
published, met with the severest treatment, being murdered by the popish
inhabitants, or shot by the troops who were quartered in the valleys. A
particular description of these cruelties is given in a letter, written by a
Protestant, who was upon the spot, and who happily escaped the carnage. "The
army (says he) having got footing, became very numerous, by the addition of a
multitude of the neighboring popish inhabitants, who finding we were the
destined prey of the plunderers, fell upon us with an impetuous fury. Exclusive
of the duke of Savoy's troops, and the popish inhabitants, there were several
regiments of French auxiliaries, some companies belonging to the Irish
brigades, and several bands formed of outlaws, smugglers, and prisoners, who
had been promised pardon and liberty in this world, and absolution in the next,
for assisting to exterminate the Protestants from Piedmont.
"This armed multitude being encouraged by the Roman Catholic bishops and
monks fell upon the Protestants in a most furious manner. Nothing now was to be
seen but the face of horror and despair, blood stained the floors of the
houses, dead bodies bestrewed the streets, groans and cries were heard from all
parts. Some armed themselves, and skirmished with the troops; and many, with
their families, fled to the mountains. In one village they cruelly tormented
one hundred and fifty women and children after the men were fled, beheading the
women, and dashing out the brains of the children. In the towns of Vilario and
Bobbio, most of those who refused to go to Mass, who were upwards of fifteen
years of age, they crucified with their heads downwards; and the greatest
number of those who were under that age were strangled."
Sarah Ratignole des Vignes, a woman of sixty years of age, being seized by
some soldiers, they ordered her to say a prayer to some saints, which she
refusing, they thrust a sickle into her belly, ripped her up, and then cut off
Martha Constantine, a handsome young woman, was treated with great
indecency and cruelty by several of the troops, who first ravished, and then
killed her by cutting off her breasts. These they fried, and set before some of
their comrades, who ate them without knowing what they were. When they had done
eating, the others told them what they had made a meal of, in consequence of
which a quarrel ensued, swords were drawn, and a battle took place. Several
were killed in the fray, the greater part of whom were those concerned in the
horrid massacre of the woman, and who had practiced such an inhuman deception
on their companions.
Some of the soldiers seized a man of Thrassiniere, and ran the points of
their swords through his ears, and through his feet. They then tore off the
nails of his fingers and toes with red-hot pincers, tied him to the tail of an
ass, and dragged him about the streets; they finally fastened a cord around his
head, which they twisted with a stick in so violent a manner as to wring it
from his body.
Peter Symonds, a Protestant, of about eighty years of age, was tied neck
and heels, and then thrown down a precipice. In the fall the branch of a tree
caught hold of the ropes that fastened him, and suspended him in the midway, so
that he languished for several days, and at length miserably perished of
Esay Garcino, refusing to renounce his religion, was cut into small
pieces; the soldiers, in ridicule, saying, they had minced him. A woman, named
Armand, had every limb separated from each other, and then the respective parts
were hung upon a hedge. Two old women were ripped open, and then left in the
fields upon the snow, where they perished; and a very old woman, who was
deformed, had her nose and hands cut off, and was left, to bleed to death in
A great number of men, women, and children, were flung from the rocks, and
dashed to pieces. Magdalen Bertino, a Protestant woman of La Torre, was
stripped stark naked, her head tied between her legs, and thrown down one of
the precipices; and Mary Raymondet, of the same town, had the flesh sliced from
her bones until she expired.
Magdalen Pilot, of Vilario, was cut to pieces in the cave of Castolus; Ann
Charboniere had one end of a stake thrust up her body; and the other being
fixed in the ground, she was left in that manner to perish, and Jacob Perrin
the elder, of the church of Vilario, and David, his brother, were flayed alive.
An inhabitant of La Torre, named Giovanni Andrea Michialm, was
apprehended, with four of his children, three of them were hacked to pieces
before him, the soldiers asking him, at the death of every child, if he would
renounce his religion; this he constantly refused. One of the soldiers then
took up the last and youngest by the legs, and putting the same question to the
father, he replied as before, when the inhuman brute dashed out the child's
brains. The father, however, at the same moment started from them, and fled;
the soldiers fired after him, but missed him; and he, by the swiftness of his
heels, escaped, and hid himself in the Alps.
Further Persecutions in the Valleys of Piedmont, in the Seventeenth Century
Giovanni Pelanchion, for refusing to turn papist, was tied by one leg to
the tail of a mule, and dragged through the streets of Lucerne, amidst the
acclamations of an inhuman mob, who kept stoning him, and crying out, "He is
possessed with the devil, so that, neither stoning, nor dragging him through
the streets, will kill him, for the devil keeps him alive." They then took him
to the river side, chopped off his head, and left that and his body unburied,
upon the bank of the stream.
Magdalen, the daughter of Peter Fontaine, a beautiful child of ten years
of age, was ravished and murdered by the soldiers. Another girl of about the
same age, they roasted alive at Villa Nova; and a poor woman, hearing that the
soldiers were coming toward her house, snatched up the cradle in which her
infant son was asleep, and fled toward the woods. The soldiers, however, saw
and pursued her; when she lightened herself by putting down the cradle and
child, which the soldiers no sooner came to, than they murdered the infant, and
continuing the pursuit, found the mother in a cave, where they first ravished,
and then cut her to pieces.
Jacob Michelino, chief elder of the church of Bobbio, and several other
Protestants, were hung up by means of hooks fixed in their bellies, and left to
expire in the most excruciating tortures.
Giovanni Rostagnal, a venerable Protestant, upwards of fourscore years of
age, had his nose and ears cut off, and slices cut from the fleshy parts of his
body, until he bled to death.
Seven persons, viz. Daniel Seleagio and his wife, Giovanni Durant, Lodwich
Durant, Bartholomew Durant, Daniel Revel, and Paul Reynaud, had their mouths
stuffed with gunpowder, which being set fire to, their heads were blown to
Jacob Birone, a schoolmaster of Rorata, for refusing to change his
religion, was stripped quite naked; and after having been very indecently
exposed, had the nails of his toes and fingers torn off with red-hot pincers,
and holes bored through his hands with the point of a dagger. He then had a
cord tied round his middle, and was led through the streets with a soldier on
each side of him. At every turning the soldier on his right hand side cut a
gash in his flesh, and the soldier on his left hand side struck him with a
bludgeon, both saying, at the same instant, "Will you go to Mass? will you go
to Mass?" He still replied in the negative to these interrogatories, and being
at length taken to the bridge, they cut off his head on the balustrades, and
threw both that and his body into the river.
Paul Garnier, a very pious Protestant, had his eyes put out, was then
flayed alive, and being divided into four parts, his quarters were placed on
four of the principal houses of Lucerne. He bore all his sufferings with the
most exemplary patience, praised God as long as he could speak, and plainly
evinced, what confidence and resignation a good conscience can inspire.
Daniel Cardon, of Rocappiata, being apprehended by some soldiers, they cut
his head off, and having fried his brains, ate them. Two poor old blind women,
of St. Giovanni, were burnt alive; and a widow of La Torre, with her daughter,
were driven into the river, and there stoned to death.
Paul Giles, on attempting to run away from some soldiers, was shot in the
neck: they then slit his nose, sliced his chin, stabbed him, and gave his
carcass to the dogs.
Some of the Irish troops having taken eleven men of Garcigliana prisoners,
they made a furnace red hot, and forced them to push each other in until they
came to the last man, whom they pushed in themselves.
Michael Gonet, a man of ninety, was burnt to death; Baptista Oudri,
another old man, was stabbed; and Bartholomew Frasche had holes made in his
heels, through which ropes were put; then he was dragged by them to the jail,
where his wounds mortified and killed him.
Magdalene de la Piere being pursued by some of the soldiers, and taken,
was thrown down a precipice, and dashed to pieces. Margaret Revella, and Mary
Pravillerin, two very old women, were burnt alive; and Michael Bellino, with
Ann Bochardno, were beheaded.
The son and the daughter of a counsellor of Giovanni were rolled down a
steep hill together, and suffered to perish in a deep pit at the bottom. A
tradesman's family, viz.: himself, his wife, and an infant in her arms, were
cast from a rock, and dashed to pieces; and Joseph Chairet and Paul Carniero
were flayed alive.
Cypriania Bustia, being asked if he would renounce his religion and turn
Roman Catholic, replied, "I would rather renounce life, or turn dog"; to which
a priest answered, "For that expression you shall both renounce life, and be
given to the dogs." They, accordingly, dragged him to prison, where he
continued a considerable time without food, until he was famished; after which
they threw his corpse into the street before the prison, and it was devoured by
dogs in the most shocking manner.
Margaret Saretta was stoned to death, and then thrown into the river;
Antonio Bartina had his head cleft asunder; and Joseph Pont was cut through the
middle of his body.
Daniel Maria, and his whole family, being ill of a fever, several papist
ruffians broke into his house, telling him they were practical physicians, and
would give them all present ease, which they did by knocking the whole family
on the head.
Three infant children of a Protestant, named Peter Fine, were covered with
snow, and stifled; an elderly widow, named Judith, was beheaded, and a
beautiful young woman was stripped naked, and had a stake driven through her
body, of which she expired.
Lucy, the wife of Peter Besson, a woman far gone in her pregnancy, who
lived in one of the villages of the Piedmontese valleys, determined, if
possible, to escape from such dreadful scenes as everywhere surrounded her:
she, accordingly took two young children, one in each hand, and set off towards
the Alps. But on the third day of the journey she was taken in labor among the
mountains, and delivered of an infant, who perished through the extreme
inclemency of the weather, as did the two other children; for all three were
found dead by her, and herself just expiring, by the person to whom she related
the above particulars.
Francis Gros, the son of a clergyman, had his flesh slowly cut from his
body into small pieces, and put into a dish before him; two of his children
were minced before his sight; and his wife was fastened to a post, that she
might behold all these cruelties practiced on her husband and offspring. The
tormentors at length being tired of exercising their cruelties, cut off the
heads of both husband and wife, and then gave the flesh of the whole family to
The sieur Thomas Margher fled to a cave, when the soldiers shut up the
mouth, and he perished with famine. Judith Revelin, and seven children, were
barbarously murdered in their beds; and a widow of near fourscore years of age,
was hewn to pieces by soldiers.
Jacob Roseno was ordered to pray to the saints, which he absolutely
refused to do: some of the soldiers beat him violently with bludgeons to make
him comply, but he still refusing, several of them fired at him, and lodged a
great many balls in his body. As he was almost expiring, they cried to him,
"Will you call upon the saints? Will you pray to the saints?" To which he
answered "No! No! No!" when one of the soldiers, with a broadsword, clove his
head asunder, and put an end to his sufferings in this world; for which
undoubtedly, he is gloriously rewarded in the next.
A soldier, attempting to ravish a young woman, named Susanna Gacquin, she
made a stout resistance, and in the struggle pushed him over a precipice, when
he was dashed to pieces by the fall. His comrades, instead of admiring the
virtue of the young woman, and applauding her for so nobly defending her
chastity, fell upon her with their swords, and cut her to pieces.
Giovanni Pulhus, a poor peasant of La Torre, being apprehended as a
Protestant by the soldiers, was ordered, by the marquis of Pianesta, to be
executed in a place near the convent. When he came to the gallows, several
monks attended, and did all they could to persuade him to renounce his
religion. But he told them he never would embrace idolatry, and that he was
happy at being thought worthy to suffer for the name of Christ. They then put
him in mind of what his wife and children, who depended upon his labor, would
suffer after his decease; to which he replied, "I would have my wife and
children, as well as myself, to consider their souls more than their bodies,
and the next world before this; and with respect to the distress I may leave
them in, God is merciful, and will provide for them while they are worthy of
his protection." Finding the inflexibility of this poor man, the monks cried,
"Turn him off! turn him off!" which the executioner did almost immediately, and
the body being afterward cut down, was flung into the river.
Paul Clement, an elder of the church of Rossana, being apprehended by the
monks of a neighboring monastery, was carried to the market place of that town,
where some Protestants had just been executed by the soldiers. He was shown the
dead bodies, in order that the sight might intimidate him. On beholding the
shocking subjects, he said, calmly, "You may kill the body, but you cannot
prejudice the soul of a true believer; but with respect to the dreadful
spectacles which you have here shown me, you may rest assured, that God's
vengeance will overtake the murderers of those poor people, and punish them for
the innocent blood they have spilt." The monks were so exasperated at this
reply that they ordered him to be hanged directly; and while he was hanging,
the soldiers amused themselves in standing at a distance, and shooting at the
body as at a mark.
Daniel Rambaut, of Vilario, the father of a numerous family, was
apprehended, and, with several others, committed to prison, in the jail of
Paysana. Here he was visited by several priests, who with continual
importunities did all they could to persuade him to renounce the Protestant
religion and turn papist; but this he peremptorily refused, and the priests
finding his resolution, pretended to pity his numerous family, and told him
that he might yet have his life, if he would subscribe to the belief of the
1. The real presence of the host.
4. The pope's infallibility.
5. That masses said for the dead will release souls from purgatory.
6. That praying to saints will procure the remission of sins.
M. Rambaut told the priests that neither his religion, his understanding,
nor his conscience, would suffer him to subscribe to any of the articles, for
the following reasons:
1. That to believe the real presence in the host, is a shocking union of
both blasphemy and idolatry.
2. That to fancy the words of consecration perform what the papists call
transubstantiation, by converting the wafer and wine into the real and
identical body and blood of Christ, which was crucified, and which afterward
ascended into heaven, is too gross an absurdity for even a child to believe,
who was come to the least glimmering of reason; and that nothing but the most
blind superstition could make the Roman Catholics put a confidence in anything
so completely ridiculous.
3. That the doctrine of purgatory was more inconsistent and absurd than a
4. That the pope's being infallible was an impossibility, and the pope
arrogantly laid claim to what could belong to God only, as a perfect being.
5. That saying Masses for the dead was ridiculous, and only meant to keep
up a belief in the fable of purgatory, as the fate of all is finally decided,
on the departure of the soul from the body.
6. That praying to saints for the remission of sins is misplacing
adoration; as the saints themselves have occasion for an intercessor in Christ.
Therefore, as God only can pardon our errors, we ought to sue to him alone for
The priests were so highly offended at M. Rambaut's answers to the
articles to which they would have had him subscribe, that they determined to
shake his resolution by the most cruel method imaginable: they ordered one
joint of his finger to be cut off every day until all his fingers were gone:
they then proceeded in the same manner with his toes; afterward they
alternately cut off, daily, a hand and a foot; but finding that he bore his
sufferings with the most admirable patience, increased both in fortitude and
resignation, and maintained his faith with steadfast resolution and unshaken
constancy they stabbed him to the heart, and then gave his body to be devoured
by the dogs.
Peter Gabriola, a Protestant gentleman of considerable eminence, being
seized by a troop of soldiers, and refusing to renounce his religion, they hung
a great number of little bags of gunpowder about his body, and then setting
fire to them, blew him up.
Anthony, the son of Samuel Catieris, a poor dumb lad who was extremely
inoffensive, was cut to pieces by a party of the troops; and soon after the
same ruffians entered the house of Peter Moniriat, and cut off the legs of the
whole family, leaving them to bleed to death, as they were unable to assist
themselves, or to help each other.
Daniel Benech being apprehended, had his nose slit, his ears cut off, and
was then divided into quarters, each quarter being hung upon a tree, and Mary
Monino had her jaw bones broke and was then left to anguish till she was
Mary Pelanchion, a handsome widow, belonging to the town of Vilario, was
seized by a party of the Irish brigades, who having beat her cruelly, and
ravished her, dragged her to a high bridge which crossed the river, and
stripped her naked in a most indecent manner, hung her by the legs to the
bridge, with her head downwards towards the water, and then going into boats,
they fired at her until she expired.
Mary Nigrino, and her daughter who was an idiot, were cut to pieces in the
woods, and their bodies left to be devoured by wild beasts: Susanna Bales, a
widow of Vilario, was immured until she perished through hunger; and Susanna
Calvio running away from some soldiers and hiding herself in a barn, they set
fire to the straw and burnt her.
Paul Armand was hacked to pieces; a child named Daniel Bertino was burnt;
Daniel Michialino had his tongue plucked out, and was left to perish in that
condition; and Andreo Bertino, a very old man, who was lame, was mangled in a
most shocking manner, and at length had his belly ripped open, and his bowels
carried about on the point of a halbert.
Constantia Bellione, a Protestant lady, being apprehended on account of
her faith, was asked by a priest if she would renounce the devil and go to
Mass; to which she replied, "I was brought up in a religion by which I was
always taught to renounce the devil; but should I comply with your desire, and
go to Mass, I should be sure to meet him there in a variety of shapes." The
priest was highly incensed at what she said, and told her to recant, or she
would suffer cruelly. The lady, however, boldly answered that she valued not
any sufferings he could inflict, and in spite of all the torments he could
invent, she would keep her conscience pure and her faith inviolate. The priest
then ordered slices of her flesh to be cut off from several parts of her body,
which cruelty she bore with the most singular patience, only saying to the
priest, "What horrid and lasting torments will you suffer in hell, for the
trifling and temporary pains which I now endure." Exasperated at this
expression, and willing to stop her tongue, the priest ordered a file of
musqueteers to draw up and fire upon her, by which she was soon despatched, and
sealed her martyrdom with her blood.
A young woman named Judith Mandon, for refusing to change her religion and
embrace popery, was fastened to a stake, and sticks thrown at her from a
distance, in the very same manner as that barbarous custom which was formerly
practiced on Shrove-Tuesday, of shying at rocks, as it was termed. By this
inhuman proceeding, the poor creature's limbs were beat and mangled in a
terrible manner, and her brains were at last dashed out by one of the
David Paglia and Paul Genre, attempting to escape to the Alps, with each
his son, were pursued and overtaken by the soldiers in a large plain. Here they
hunted them for their diversion, goading them with their swords, and making
them run about until they dropped down with fatigue. When they found that their
spirits were quite exhausted, and that they could not afford them any more
barbarous sport by running, the soldiers hacked them to pieces, and left their
mangled bodies on the spot.
A young man of Bobbio, named Michael Greve, was apprehended in the town of
La Torre, and being led to the bridge, was thrown over into the river. As he
could swim very well, he swam down the stream, thinking to escape, but the
soldiers and the mob followed on both sides of the river, and kept stoning him,
until receiving a blow on one of his temples, he was stunned, and consequently
sunk and was drowned.
David Armand was ordered to lay his head down on a block, when a soldier,
with a large hammer, beat out his brains. David Baridona being apprehended at
Vilario, was carried to La Torre, where, refusing to renounce his religion, he
was tormented by means of brimstone matches being tied between his fingers and
toes, and set fire to; and afterward, by having his flesh plucked off with red-
hot pincers, until he expired; and Giovanni Barolina, with his wife, were
thrown into a pool of stagnant water, and compelled, by means of pitchforks and
stones, to duck down their heads until they were suffocated.
A number of soldiers went to the house of Joseph Garniero, and before they
entered, fired in at the window, to give notice of their approach. A musket
ball entered one of Mrs. Garniero's breasts, as she was suckling an infant with
the other. On finding their intentions, she begged hard that they would spare
the life of the infant, which they promised to do, and sent it immediately to a
Roman Catholic nurse. They then took the husband and hanged him at his own
door, and having shot the wife through the head, they left her body weltering
in its blood, and her husband hanging on the gallows.
Isaiah Mondon, an elderly man, and a pious Protestant, fled from the
merciless persecutors to a cleft in a rock, where he suffered the most dreadful
hardships; for, in the midst of the winter he was forced to lie on the bare
stone, without any covering; his food was the roots he could scratch up near
his miserable habitation; and the only way by which he could procure drink, was
to put snow in his mouth until it melted. Here, however, some of the inhuman
soldiers found him, and after having beaten him unmercifully, they drove him
towards Lucerne, goading him with the points of their swords. Being exceedingly
weakened by his manner of living, and his spirits exhausted by the blows he had
received, he fell down in the road. They again beat him to make him proceed:
when on his knees, he implored them to put him out of his misery, by
despatching him. This they at last agreed to do; and one of them stepping up to
him shot him through the head with a pistol, saying, "There, heretic, take thy
Mary Revol, a worthy Protestant, received a shot in her back, as she was
walking along the street. She dropped down with the wound, but recovering
sufficient strength, she raised herself upon her knees, and lifting her hands
towards heaven, prayed in a most fervent manner to the Almighty, when a number
of soldiers, who were near at hand, fired a whole volley of shot at her, many
of which took effect, and put an end to her miseries in an instant.
Several men, women, and children secreted themselves in a large cave,
where they continued for some weeks in safety. It was the custom for two of the
men to go when it was necessary, and by stealth, procure provisions. These
were, however, one day watched, by which the cave was discovered, and soon
after, a troop of Roman Catholics appeared before it. The papists that
assembled upon this occasion were neighbors and intimate acquaintances of the
Protestants in the cave; and some were even related to each other. The
Protestants, therefore, came out, and implored them, by the ties of
hospitality, by the ties of blood, and as old acquaintances and neighbors, not
to murder them. But superstition overcomes every sensation of nature and
humanity; so that the papists, blinded by bigotry, told them they could not
show any mercy to heretics, and, therefore, bade them prepare to die. Hearing
this, and knowing the fatal obstinacy of the Roman Catholics, the Protestants
all fell prostate, lifted their hands and hearts to heaven, prayed with great
sincerity and fervency, and then bowing down, put their faces close to the
ground, and patiently waited their fate, which was soon decided, for the
papists fell upon them with unremitting fury, and having cut them to pieces,
left the mangled bodies and limbs in the cave.
Giovanni Salvagiot, passing by a Roman Catholic church, and not taking off
his hat, was followed by some of the congregation, who fell upon and murdered
him; and Jacob Barrel and his wife, having been taken prisoners by the earl of
St. Secondo, one of the duke of Savoy's officers, he delivered them up to the
soldiery, who cut off the woman's breasts, and the man's nose, and then shot
them both through the head.
Anthony Guigo, a Protestant, of a wavering disposition, went to Periero,
with an intent to renounce his religion and embrace popery. This design he
communicated to some priests, who highly commended it, and a day was fixed upon
for his public recantation. In the meantime, Anthony grew fully sensible of his
perfidy, and his conscience tormented him so much night and day that he
determined not to recant, but to make his escape. This he effected, but being
soon missed and pursued, he was taken. The troops on the way did all they could
to bring him back to his design of recantation; but finding their endeavors
ineffectual, they beat him violently on the road. When coming near a precipice,
he took an opportunity of leaping down it and was dashed to pieces.
A Protestant gentleman, of considerable fortune, at Bobbio, being nightly
provoked by the insolence of a priest, retorted with great severity; and among
other things, said, that the pope was Antichrist, Mass idolatry, purgatory a
farce, and absolution a cheat. To be revenged, the priest hired five desperate
ruffians, who, the same evening, broke into the gentleman's house, and seized
upon him in a violent manner. The gentleman was terribly frightened, fell on
his knees, and implored mercy; but the desperate ruffians despatched him
without the least hesitation.
A Narrative of the Piedmontese War
The massacres and murders already mentioned to have been committed in the
valleys of Piedmont, nearly depopulated most of the towns and villages. One
place only had not been assaulted, and that was owing to the difficulty of
approaching it; this was the little commonalty of Roras, which was situated
upon a rock.
As the work of blood grew slack in other places, the earl of Christople,
one of the duke of Savoy's officers, determined, if possible, to make himself
master of it; and, with that view, detached three hundred men to surprise it
The inhabitants of Roras, however, had intelligence of the approach of
these troops, when captain Joshua Gianavel, a brave Protestant officer, put
himself at the head of a small body of the citizens, and waited in ambush to
attack the enemy in a small defile.
When the troops appeared, and had entered the defile, which was the only
place by which the town could be approached, the Protestants kept up a smart
and well-directed fire against them, and still kept themselves concealed behind
bushes from the sight of the enemy. A great number of the soldiers were killed,
and the remainder receiving a continued fire, and not seeing any to whom they
might return it, thought proper to retreat.
The members of this little community then sent a memorial to the marquis
of Pianessa, one of the duke's general officers, setting forth, 'That they were
sorry, upon any occasion, to be under the necessity of taking up arms; but that
the secret approach of a body of troops, without any reason assigned, or any
previous notice sent of the purpose of their coming, had greatly alarmed them;
that as it was their custom never to suffer any of the military to enter their
little community, they had repelled force by force, and should do so again; but
in all other respects, they professed themselves dutiful, obedient, and loyal
subjects to their sovereign, the duke of Savoy.'
The marquis of Pianessa, that he might have the better opportunity of
deluding and surprising the Protestants of Roras, sent them word in answer,
'That he was perfectly satisfied with their behavior, for they had done right,
and even rendered a service to their country, as the men who had attempted to
pass the defile were not his troops, or sent by him, but a band of desperate
robbers, who had, for some time, infested those parts, and been a terror to the
neighboring country.' To give a greater color to his treachery, he then
published an ambiguous proclamation seemingly favorable to the inhabitants.
Yet, the very day after this plausible proclamation, and specious conduct,
the marquis sent five hundred men to possess themselves of Roras, while the
people as he thought, were lulled into perfect security by his specious
Captain Gianavel, however, was not to be deceived so easily: he,
therefore, laid an ambuscade for this body of troops, as he had for the former,
and compelled them to retire with very considerable loss.
Though foiled in these two attempts, the marquis of Pianessa determined on
a third, which should be still more formidable; but first he imprudently
published another proclamation, disowning any knowledge of the second attempt.
Soon after, seven hundred chosen men were sent upon the expedition, who,
in spite of the fire from the Protestants, forced the defile, entered Roras,
and began to murder every person they met with, without distinction of age or
sex. The Protestant captain Gianavel, at the head of a small body, though he
had lost the defile, determined to dispute their passage through a fortified
pass that led to the richest and best part of the town. Here he was successful,
by keeping up a continual fire, and by means of his men being all complete
marksmen. The Roman Catholic commander was greatly staggered at this
opposition, as he imagined that he had surmounted all difficulties. He,
however, did his endeavors to force the pass, but being able to bring up only
twelve men in front at a time, and the Protestants being secured by a
breastwork, he found he should be baffled by the handful of men who opposed
Enraged at the loss of so many of his troops, and fearful of disgrace if
he persisted in attempting what appeared so impracticable, he thought it the
wisest thing to retreat. Unwilling, however, to withdraw his men by the defile
at which he had entered, on account of the difficulty and danger of the
enterprise, he determined to retreat towards Vilario, by another pass called
Piampra, which though hard of access, was easy of descent. But in this he met
with disappointment, for Captain Gianavel having posted his little band here,
greatly annoyed the troops as they passed, and even pursued their rear until
they entered the open country.
The marquis of Pianessa, finding that all his attempts were frustrated,
and that every artifice he used was only an alarm signal to the inhabitants of
Roras, determined to act openly, and therefore proclaimed that ample rewards
should be given to any one who would bear arms against the obstinate heretics
of Roras, as he called them; and that any officer who would exterminate them
should be rewarded in a princely manner.
This engaged Captain Mario, a bigoted Roman Catholic, and a desperate
ruffian, to undertake the enterprise. He, therefore, obtained leave to raise a
regiment in the following six towns: Lucerne, Borges, Famolas, Bobbio, Begnal,
Having completed his regiment, which consisted of one thousand men, he
laid his plan not to go by the defiles or the passes, but to attempt gaining
the summit of a rock, whence he imagined he could pour his troops into the town
without much difficulty or opposition.
The Protestants suffered the Roman Catholic troops to gain almost the
summit of the rock, without giving them any opposition, or ever appearing in
their sight: but when they had almost reached the top they made a most furious
attack upon them; one party keeping up a well-directed and constant fire, and
another party rolling down huge stones.
This stopped the career of the papist troops: many were killed by the
musketry, and more by the stones, which beat them down the precipices. Several
fell sacrifices to their hurry, for by attempting a precipitate retreat they
fell down, and were dashed to pieces; and Captain Mario himself narrowly
escaped with his life, for he fell from a craggy place into a river which
washed the foot of the rock. He was taken up senseless, but afterwards
recovered, though he was ill of the bruises for a long time; and, at length he
fell into a decline at Lucerne, where he died.
Another body of troops was ordered from the camp at Vilario, to make an
attempt upon Roras; but these were likewise defeated, by means of the
Protestants' ambush fighting, and compelled to retreat again to the camp at
After each of these signal victories, Captain Gianavel made a suitable
discourse to his men, causing them to kneel down, and return thanks to the
Almighty for his providential protection; and usually concluded with the
Eleventh Psalm, where the subject is placing confidence in God.
The marquis of Pianessa was greatly enraged at being so much baffled by
the few inhabitants of Roras: he, therefore, determined to attempt their
expulsion in such a manner as could hardly fail of success.
With this view he ordered all the Roman Catholic militia of Piedmont to be
raised and disciplined. When these orders were completed, he joined to the
militia eight thousand regular troops, and dividing the whole into three
distinct bodies, he designed that three formidable attacks should be made at
the same time, unless the people of Roras, to whom he sent an account of his
great preparations, would comply with the following conditions:
1. To ask pardon for taking up arms. 2. To pay the expenses of all the
expeditions sent against them. 3. To acknowledge the infallibility of the pope.
4. To go to Mass. 5. To pray to the saints. 6. To wear beards. 7. To deliver up
their ministers. 8. To deliver up their schoolmasters. 9. To go to confession.
10. To pay loans for the delivery of souls from purgatory. 11. To give up
Captain Gianavel at discretion. 12. To give up the elders of their church at
The inhabitants of Roras, on being acquainted with these conditions, were
filled with an honest indignation, and, in answer, sent word to the marquis
that sooner than comply with them they would suffer three things, which, of all
others, were the most obnoxious to mankind, viz.
1. Their estates to be seized. 2. Their houses to be burned. 3. Themselves
to be murdered.
Exasperated at this message, the marquis sent them this laconic epistle:
To the Obstinate Heretics Inhabiting Roras
You shall have your request, for the troops sent against you have strict
injunctions to plunder, burn, and kill. PIANESSA.
The three armies were then put in motion, and the attacks ordered to be
made thus: the first by the rocks of Vilario; the second by the pass of Bagnol;
and the third by the defile of Lucerne.
The troops forced their way by the superiority of numbers, and having
gained the rocks, pass, and defile, began to make the most horrid depradations,
and exercise the greatest cruelties. Men they hanged, burned, racked to death,
or cut to pieces; women they ripped open, crucified, drowned, or threw from the
precipices; and children they tossed upon spears, minced, cut their throats, or
dashed out their brains. One hundred and twenty-six suffered in this manner on
the first day of their gaining the town.
Agreeable to the marquis of Pianessa's orders, they likewise plundered the
estates, and burned the houses of the people. Several Protestants, however,
made their escape, under the conduct of Captain Gianavel, whose wife and
children were unfortunately made prisoners and sent under a strong guard to
The marquis of Pianessa wrote a letter to Captain Gianavel, and released a
Protestant prisoner that he might carry it him. The contents were, that if the
captain would embrace the Roman Catholic religion, he should be indemnified for
all his losses since the commencement of the war; his wife and children should
be immediately released, and himself honorably promoted in the duke of Savoy's
army; but if he refused to accede to the proposals made him, his wife and
children should be put to death; and so large a reward should be given to take
him, dead or alive, that even some of his own confidential friends should be
tempted to betray him, from the greatness of the sum.
To this epistle, the brave Gianavel sent the following answer.
My Lord Marquis,
There is no torment so great or death so cruel, but what I would prefer to
the abjuration of my religion: so that promises lose their effects, and menaces
only strengthen me in my faith.
With respect to my wife and children, my lord, nothing can be more
afflicting to me than the thought of their confinement, or more dreadful to my
imagination, than their suffering a violent and cruel death. I keenly feel all
the tender sensations of husband and parent; my heart is replete with every
sentiment of humanity; I would suffer any torment to rescue them from danger; I
would die to preserve them.
But having said thus much, my lord, I assure you that the purchase of
their lives must not be the price of my salvation. You have them in your power
it is true; but my consolation is that your power is only a temporary authority
over their bodies: you may destroy the mortal part, but their immortal souls
are out of your reach, and will live hereafter to bear testimony against you
for your cruelties. I therefore recommend them and myself to God, and pray for
a reformation in your heart. -- JOSHUA GIANAVEL.
This brave Protestant officer, after writing the above letter, retired to
the Alps, with his followers; and being joined by a great number of other
fugitive Protestants, he harassed the enemy by continual skirmishes.
Meeting one day with a body of papist troops near Bibiana, he, though
inferior in numbers, attacked them with great fury, and put them to the rout
without the loss of a man, though himself was shot through the leg in the
engagement, by a soldier who had hid himself behind a tree; but Gianavel
perceiving whence the shot came, pointed his gun to the place, and despatched
the person who had wounded him.
Captain Gianavel hearing that a Captain Jahier had collected together a
considerable body of Protestants, wrote him a letter, proposing a junction of
their forces. Captain Jahier immediately agreed to the proposal, and marched
directly to meet Gianavel.