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Title: L'Histoire Des Vaudois - From Authentic Details of the Valdenses
Author: Bresse, J., al.
Language: English
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Illustrated by Etchings

"Vous etes de nos peres que nous ne connaissons pas."

Reply of a Vaudois peasant to an Englishman.


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




After the late interesting publications of Allix, Jones, Gilly,
Acland, and other writers, it may appear at the present time somewhat
presumptuous, as well as unnecessary, to lay before the public any
further details connected with the history of these excellent and
primitive Christians; but as some of the Vaudois manuscripts and works
are very scarce, and but little known in England, more particularly
those of Peyran, Henri Arnaud, and Bresse, it may be desirable (even
under the certainty of many repetitions) to give some short extracts
from these curious documents, if only with the view and under the hope
of keeping alive in the breasts of the people of this favoured isle that
charitable zeal, which has again manifested itself, and is of such vital
importance to the political and religious welfare of our noble though
impoverished protestant brethren.

As the Valdenses most evidently are a part of the dispersed flock of the
original Church of Christ, it becomes a matter of the highest interest
to trace out their history from the earliest periods, and to observe
how sedulously under the severest persecutions they have not only upheld
their faith in its own purity and truth, but how gloriously they have
continued to resist the growing corruptions of the Romish faith.

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

We not only find many colonies of these people in the eastern and
western parts of Europe, but even in Africa and America, whither they
emigrated to escape from oppression and massacre.

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

Many refugees took up their abode in the Rhetian Alps, and a great
number, after various edicts, were allowed to settle in the Duchy of
Wirtemberg, where some of them were visited by the writer of these
pages, for the express purpose of inquiring into their wants and

Before the days of Wickliffe, and other reformers, we can trace the
Vaudois by their sufferings; they were branded and burnt as heretics,
because they would not conform to the doctrines of men, and the edicts
of the Roman pontiffs: their steady adherence to the principles of their
own faith, and obedience to the will of their Creator, rendered them
instrumental to the reformation, which afterwards took place, and by
which, in this country, the pure religion of our ancestors was restored.
It is even probable that this separated flock of true worshippers are to
be the means, under heavenly guidance, of not only preserving, but also
diffusing, the light of the gospel and its healing beams over the most
remote parts of the earth.


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

590 Nine Bishops rejected the communion of the Pope, as heretical, and
this schism, we are told by another author, began even in the year 553.

604 On the death of Pope Gregory, Boniface III. styled himself
"universal Bishop," and the worship of images became general; but long
before this period, in the fourth century, Socrates the historian speaks
of the Novations having churches at Constantinople, Nice, Nicomedia, and
Coticæus in Phrygia, &c. as well as a church at Carthage, the doctrines
and discipline of which, we find that Dionysius, Bishop of' Alexandria,
and Fabius, Bishop of Antioch, approved of.

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

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

     * Patarines, so called from Pataria, a place near Milan,
     where those Vaudois who took part with the Bishop of Milan
     against the Roman Pontiff, Nicholas II., held communion
     together. See the Sermon of Archbishop Wake, preached for
     the relief of the Vaudois, A.D. 1669, at St. James's

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

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

1178 Gretzer the Jesuit (who published the book of Reinerius) admits
that the Toulousians and Albigenses condemned in 1178 were no other 1181
than the Valdenses. In the decree of Pope Lucius III. against them, they
are called Catharists, Josephists, and Heretics. Another decree was made
against them in 1194, by Ildefonsus, King of Arragon: and Bale, in his
old Chronicle of London, mentions "one 1210 burnt to death tainted with
the faith of the Valdenses."

1215 Council of Lateran against Heretics.

1230 to 1350 Supressio in France

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

1259 The Patarine Church of Albi (in France) whence these Vaudois were
called Albigenses, consisted of 500 members, that of Concorezzo more
than 1500, and of Bagnolo 200. The Bishop of Vercelli complained much of
these people, whom he denominated Cathari and Patarines. The English,
at the time they had possession of Guienne (in 1210), began to help the
Valdenses, who stood forth to defend their faith, headed by Walter and
Raymond Lollard.

1322 According to Clark's Martyrology (page 111), we find Walter was
burnt at Cologne in 1322: which was two years before the birth of
Wickliffe. A cotemporary historian says, that "in a few years half the
people of England became Lollards." And Newton, in his Dissertation on
the Prophecies, (1 vol. 4to. page 631,) says, "part of the Wal-denses
took refuge in Britain." Even Theo. Beza says, "as for the Valdenses,
I may be permitted to call them the seed of the primitive and pure
Christian church."

1400 In 1400 began the first severe persecution against the Vaudois, on
account of their faith, which may be found related by Bresse, together
with their subsequent misfortunes, down to the era of the treaty of
Pignerolo in 1655, the most interesting details of which history are
translated and abridged in another part of this work.

1685 The Duke of Savoy, at the instigation of Louis XIVth, revoked his
promises, and the following year condemned 14,000 Vaudois to the prisons
of Turin, the rest either fled or became Catholics. By the intercessions
of the Protestant countries, these miserable prisoners were released,
but their numbers by hardships and cruelty were reduced to 3000, who
took refuge in Switzerland and 1687 elsewhere, in 1687; from whence a
part of them effected that intrepid return into their own Vallies, so
well described by their Colonel and Pastor, Henri Arnaud, in "La Rentree
Glorieuse" of 1689.

1698 Eight years after they were again exiled to the number of 3000, in
consequence of an article in the treaty between France and Savoyin
1698: these were the same who with the veteran Arnaud amongst them, took
refuge in Germany, and were solemnly received as subjects to the Duke of
Wirtemberg, with the promise of the free exercise of their religion for

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

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

1800 Piedmont fell under the yoke of France.

1814 The King of Sardinia restored to his throne, refused to grant any
privileges to the Vaudois beyond those they enjoyed before the French

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


By J. Bresse

Minister of the Walloon Church


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

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

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

It is upon these principles that I beg all that I have advanced in the
history of the Vaudois may be judged. If I have expressed myself warmly
against their enemies, it is only when they have violated the first
duties of Christianity; then I neither wish or ought to spare them, for
truth, in the judgment of an honest man, is one and immutable. He ought
to purchase it, to use the words of the gospel, to publish and defend
it, at the price of all he has in the world. I have nothing to do with
Catholicism, but with the excesses which Catholics have committed. If
I have anathematized the ministers of the Inquisition, it is because so
execrable an establishment does not exist under heaven. The sun may well
have withdrawn his light in horror, when he first illuminated the dark
and bloody walls of this abominable tribunal! And they dare to assert
that it is established for the propagation of the Christian faith. What
a horrible blasphemy is this! We may ask of the most ardent partizans
of the Propaganda,* whether Jesus had recourse to an Inquisition? if the
Apostles used such a means of extending their doctrine, or proving the
faith of their brethren? Did the first preachers use tortures to force
men to adopt their creed? Did not Jesus, himself say to those who
remained with him, when others fled--"And ye! will ye also go away?"**
Is this the expression of a persecutor? or can the infernal rules of the
Inquisition be founded upon the feelings which dictated this question?

     * The College of Propaganda fide, in Rome, is synonymous
     with the Italian Inquisition.

     ** John, chap. vi. ver. 67.

Nay! is there in the whole of the sacred Scriptures, one single line or
word which can excuse persecution for the sake of religion? If there is,
let it be produced, and I will on the instant make full reparation
to this host of executioners and fanatics. But if the precepts of
Christianity tend to recommend to us the love of God and of our
brethren, it follows that the Inquisitors and their adherents, have
been Christians in name only, and that their conduct has tended to the
discredit of true religion and greatly injured the cause of Christ; for
light and darkness are not more different than a true Christian, and
a bigoted fanatic. I have more than once remarked, in the course of my
history, that we should rather accuse the Inquisition, than the House of
Savoy of the atrocities committed on the Vaudois. If the latter deserves
censure, it is for want of courage to oppose the perfidious and criminal
instigations of this bloody tribunal. The frightful tyranny of Rome, at
that time, may be considered as an excuse; and our history will show to
what excesses the anti-christian policy of that proud court was led.
And as the picture of such cruelty is disgusting, it will be pleasing to
turn from it to the mildness which reigns in the present government....

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

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

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

P. Gilles, pastor of the Vaudois church at La Tour, is the author of
"Histoire Ecclesiastique des églises reformées recueillies en quelques
vallées du Piémont autrefois appellées églises Vaudoises," chez de
Tournes, 1648, 1 vol. 4to.; this comprises the period from 1160 to 1643;
containing interesting annals of the persecutions in the author's time;
but the style is still less agreeable than that of Perrin.

Jean Leger's history is entitled "Histoire generate des églises
évangeliques de Piémont ou Vaudoises," printed at Leyden, 1669, 1 vol.
folio, goes as far as A.D. 1664; it is full of learning and piety,
giving many facts to be found no where else; and the interest is
increased from the circumstance of his having himself taken an important
part in the events he describes. Still he enters into those tiresome
details, for which the taste of that age is so much to be blamed.

The work of Henri Arnaud is the "Histoire de la rentrée glorieuse de nos
ancetres dans leur patrie," in 1 vol. 8vo. without date. The event he
relates occurred three years after the expulsion of the Vaudois, that
is in 1690. This is a most precious and interesting little work, for the
author himself was at the head of his countrymen, and the vivacity and
force of his narrative render it very attractive to the lovers of truth,
though it must be confessed that his style, as he says himself, in his
dedication to Queen Anne, is wanting in that polish which is so much
admired in these times. This work was originally composed in two parts,
of which the latter must have contained an account of the war between
Piedmont and France, in which the Vaudois were actively engaged; this
last part was unhappily never printed, and the manuscript remains
undiscovered; any information respecting it would be very important
to the completion of the third part of my work. Henri Arnaud died in
Wirtemberg, where this manuscript probably would be found.

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

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

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

Though I must not repeat here the evidences of the antiquity of the
Vaudois, I cannot refrain from remarking that it is from the vallies of
the Vaudois that the first sparks of that reformation have arisen, which
has drawn back a great part of Europe to the purity of the gospel. It is
extremely probable, that Calvin himself was of Vaudois origin, for there
are still several families of this name in the vallies, from whence we
believe his to have emigrated to Picardy. It is certain, that in the
preface which this great reformer prefixed to the first French bible
ever published; he acknowledges himself bound by the ties of kindred to
the translator, one of our most celebrated "barbes," or pastors, named
Olivetan, which makes it probable that Calvin had obtained from the
Vaudois the doctrine which he afterwards preached at Geneva, and
elsewhere. It is equally certain, that long before the reformation there
were many persons who followed the doctrine of the Vaudois in Germany,
Hungary, Bohemia, &c.; indeed the Vatïtiois of this last country,
as well as those of Alsace, sent their youth into our vallies to be
educated as pastors. It is known also that the celebrated Lollard who
laboured with such zeal to diffuse the Vaudois doctrines in England, was
not only a native of our vallies, but preached in them for a length of
time with great success.* We may also assert that it is by means of the
Vaudois that the reformation was introduced in the United Provinces.

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

The Vaudois of Provence, Languedoc, and Dauphiné also, originally sprang
from our val-lies, and when their numbers had increased greatly at
Lyons, they were persecuted by the Archbishop of that city, Jean de
Belle Maison, about 1180, and retired into Picardy, under Peter Valdo,
where they received the name of Picards. Here Philip Augustus, king of
France, resolving to extirpate them, caused 300 gentlemen's houses to be
razed to the ground, because the owners had embraced the tenets of the
Vaudois. Forced again to leave their newly found country, these Picards,
or Vaudois of Lyons, (also called poor of Lyons,) retired principally
into the United Provinces of Holland, and there spread the knowledge of
the truth. It was in the Low Countries that the Vaudois first took the
name of Walloons, and that the first confession de foi (articles
of belief) was drawn up by the celebrated martyr Guido Brez. This
confession was first printed in 1561, addressed to Philip II. of Spain,
in 1562; it was confirmed by the synod of Anvers, 1585, and finally
adopted by that of Dordt. The above is sufficient to prove that
the Vaudois church is the parent of all those which have arisen in
Protestant Europe, and particularly of the churches of the United
Provinces, as well Dutch as Walloon. Why do the Roman Catholics and the
Protestants mutually hate each other? Why do they look upon each other
with harshness and severity? It is, because instead of going to the
source of their religion, the gospel itself, they content themselves
with examining those streams, of which the waters have been rendered
impure, by the admixture of human opinions: it is because they appeal to
the confessions of faith of the heads of their sect or party, instead of
seeking what really constitutes the essence of the Christian faith, and
what ought to be the rule of our faith and practice, by means of the
specific declarations of Jesus Christ and his apostles. It is because
they generally adopt self-interest for their guide, instead of shielding
themselves under that universal spirit of charity, without which there
can be no real Christianity, and because they entirely forget that
religion does not consist in words, but in virtue.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Utrecht, 4th October, 1794.


The principal passages where the fundamental truths of Christianity are
expressed with the greatest clearness, are the following.

Gospel of St. John, chap. iii. ver. 36.; iv. 25, 26, 29, 39, 42; vi. 69;
x. 24, 26; xx. 30, 31; xi. 27. Gospel of St. Luke, chap. xxiv. Acts of
the Apostles, chap. ii. 22; iii. 18; iv. 10,12; v. 29, 32; viii. 5, 12,
37; ix. 20, 22; x. 42,43; xi. 14; xv. 7, 19; xvii. 1, 9; xviii. 4, 6,
27,28; xxvi. 22.

There can be no other fundamentally essential articles of the Christian
faith, or any of which the belief is necessary to the being a good
Christian, except those of which Jesus and his apostles required the
belief from the persons they received into the bosom of Christianity.
All that has been added since, is nothing more than alloy, as impure in
itself, as pernicious in its effects.

This Preface has been translated literally, with the omission of one
or two passages, of little interest to those ignorant of the author's
family and connections.




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

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

     * All those villages were once Vaudois.

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

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

The authors of poems and romances, in giving their enchanting
descriptions of pastoral life, have excited a deep feeling of regret in
sensitive minds, that the originals of their pictures are no where to be
found. But I can console these friends of virtue, by shewing them where
they may find what they have sought in vain in other parts of the world.
And this happy asylum of innocence is no other than the valley of St.
Martin. I have known there shepherdesses in every sense of the word, as
amiable and interesting as the heroines of these romances. And if the
delightful author of Estelle and Galatée had lived among them as I have
done, he might have added many a lively tint to his portraits, the more
charming as it would have been copied from nature and truth. But let
it not be thought that my shepherdesses resemble the smart wives and
daughters of our citizens then, indeed, they would have little interest
in my eyes. Imagine virtue without pretensions or vanity, grace without
frivolity, and amiability devoid of coquetry, and these set off by that
true modesty which their simple habits inspire, and you have a true
picture of my Vaudois heroines.

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

     ** He writes at Utrecht.

Had I been born a poet, they should have formed the subject of my lays.
The churches in the Valley of St Martin, as well as those of the other
valleys, were formerly much more numerous. In the whole we have now but
thirteen parish churches, though in the ancient records, examined by
Leger, mention is made of ten other parishes to which pastors were
attached; these are now annexed to the thirteen. In the valley of Cluson
or Pragela, which adjoins those of St. Martin, and Perouse, were no
less than six flourishing Vaudois churches, as late as 1727, when in
consequence of the exchange of territory between France and the House
of Savoy, all those who remained faithful to their religion, were forced
into exile.* The Vaudois were also very numerous in the valleys of
Queiras, Mathias, and Meane, until entirely extirpated there by Duke
Charles Emmanuel in 1603. As they were in the Marquisate of Sa-luces, in
1633, where they had many churches.

     * Many hundreds went to Holland.

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

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

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

     * Vide population in 1820, about 22,000.


As to the name of the Vaudois, it might be sufficient to answer from the
authority of that judicious critic, Theodore* Bèze,** and Coug-nard,***
advocate of the parliament of Normandy. That the Vaudois have received
their name from the valleys they inhabit. The names of Waldense or
Valdense in Italian, and Valdensis in Latin, are thus derived from the
same root, vale, valle, and vallis, a valley, as Vaudois is derived from
vaux, the word for valley, in their ancient patois.****

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

     **  Portraites des hommes illustres, p. 985.

     *** Traite touchant la Papesse Jeanne, p. 8.

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

In the same way the inhabitants of the plain of the Po are called
Piemontese or Piedmontese, Pedemontani, and those of the mountains,
generally Montagnards. This word Vaudois, which they first acquired from
their geographical situation, they have preserved as a token of their
religion in all countries, as the Vaudois of Provence, and of Bohemia,
and the Walloons of the Low Countries. Since the Reformation the names
of Lutheran, Calvinist, and Reformed, have served to distinguish all
those who rejected the papal doctrines, and the inhabitants of our
valleys, the only people who have never been affected by these opinions,
have alone retained their original name of Vaudois. I must, however,
observe, that it is against their own wish that they have ever received
it; the name of Christian was too precious in their eyes to have been
willingly, on their part, exchanged for any other. As we find in the
letter which they addressed to OEladislaus, king of Bohemia, they style
themselves "the little flock of Christians, falsely called Vaudois." It
has been pretended and even by those who have written our history, such
as Perrin, and Gilles, that the name is derived from Peter Valdo, which
can by no means be the case, as it is allowed on all hands, that this
famous reformer of Lyons was not known before 1175, while we have
ancient MSS. in the Vaudois language, dated 1120, and 1100, in the
former of which are stated the differences between their church and that
of Rome, and in the latter the word Vaudois is used as synonymous with
virtuous Christian.

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

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

     * Ennemio murir, another reading.

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

The opinion of Theodore Bèze is given in these words. Some have believed
that the Vaudois had for founder, (of this sect,) a merchant of Lyons,
called Jean, surnamed Valdo, in which they are mistaken, since this John
was so surnamed from being one of the first among the Vaudois.

But not to give more importance to these things than they are worthy of,
let it be remarked, that it is not in the name that they bear that the
Vaudois take a pride. We as well as our ancestors, esteem ourselves
happy and render thanks to God in that he has pre-served in our valleys
the evangelical doctrine in all its purity, without any mixture of human
opinions. We rejoice that the Supreme Being has deigned to choose our
country, to preserve there the torch of truth, and that it has been
the beacon to which other nations have come to seek the light that has
enlightened them.* We are proud of never having been reformed; but that
it is at our school that the reformers have been instructed, as they
themselves avow. We rejoice finally in this that our valleys are the
mother church of all Reformed and Protestant Churches. These are our
titles; these are our testimonies.

Every one knows that Luther and Calvin commenced their labours in 1517
and 1536, while we have a confession of faith dated 1120.**

     * The Vaudois' state seal bears a candle, with rays,
     surrounded by clouds; motto, Lux in Tenebris.--T.

     ** The noble Leiçon, quoted above; vide extract at the end
     of Bresse.

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


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

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

These innovations, and particularly the adoration of images,** were
loudly condemned by the churches of England, France, Germany, and the

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

     ** Established by Pope Adrian I.; vide Storia dei Pontefeci.

Which condemnation was confirmed by the council convoked by
Charlemagne,* at Frankfurt-on-the-Main, in 794. The Bishops of Italy
also proclaimed their discontent in a letter which they addressed, by
means of Photius, to the patriarchs of the Greek churches. Baronius, who
gives this letter, subjoins the following answer of the Patriarchs.**
"We have received a synodal epistle from Italy, in which the
inhabitants lay to the charge of their bishop an infinity of crimes and
perverseness; among other things, the tyranny he wishes to exercise over
them, and they call us, with tears, to the defence of the church." Here
again let it be remarked, that as long as the superior church retained
its purity, the Vaudois did not secede from it. It was the court of Rome
that began with innovations, not they. Of this so many proofs press upon
me, that I scarcely know which to choose. At the end of the eighth,
or beginning of the ninth century, flourished Claude, bishop of
Turin, whose diocese embraced not only our valleys, but Dauphiné and

     * Vide Histoire de Charlemagne, by

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

     *** Piémont making then part of France, it did not pass
     under the sway of the house of Savoy till the twelfth

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

In the fragments that remain of this courageous Bishop, which are cited
by Leger, Part I. p. 137, he combats with great vigour, the abuses above
mentioned, and proves that it was not his wish to establish any new
sect, but to preserve the doctrines of the apostles in their original
purity.** We cannot, therefore, doubt his having used his utmost
exertions in his own diocese, of which our valleys formed a part.

     * Genebrand Chronic, Liv. 3.

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

Indeed we have the fullest evidence that the Vaudois preserved the
purity of their faith during the ninth and tenth centuries. To prove
this fact, it will be sufficient to give a single quotation from the
missionary Marco Aurelio Rorenco, Grand Prior of St. Roch, at Turin,
whose work is entitled Narratione delle Intro-duzione delle heresie
nelle valli de Piemonte, Turin, 1632.* Speaking of the doctrine of
Claude, which this author is pleased to call heresy, he says--"This
doctrine continued in the valleys all the ninth and tenth centuries;"
and again, "that during the tenth century no change took place, but the
old heresies were continued." In order to feel the full force of the
above citation, we must call to mind that Rorenco** had been for ten
years a missionary, directly sent out to the Vaudois, with orders to
search into the origin of their doctrine; and that writing with the
approbation of the clergy of Turin, he was little likely to favour the

     * He also wrote Memorie Historiche, Turin, 1645.

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

In the eleventh century, Lambertus, a Catholic and friend of Gregory
VII. writes thus: "The court of Rome has so completely stifled all
charity and Christian simplicity, that almost all good and just men
believe that the reign of Antichrist, of which St. John speaks, is
already commenced." John the Fifth, who reigned before this period, has
been called by cotemporary writers, the most wicked of men. In these
unhappy times the Vaudois did not venture to preach any where but in the
woods and highest mountains, except in their most remote villages, such
as Macel and Pral, &c. In the eleventh century, Berenger, so celebrated
for his knowledge and virtues, was condemned by two councils, convoked
by Pope Leo IX., and was forced to retract what he had written against
transubstantiation, &c. by Pope Nicholas. He lost no time, however,
in protesting against this forced recantation, and persevered in his
doctrine till his death, in 1091. Now the belief of Berenger, (says an
ancient author,) the same as that of the Vaudois, was so well preserved
in the valleys, that to call a man a Berengerian was the same as calling
him a Vaudois. Peter de Bruys,* a priest of Toulon, whose doctrine
was precisely similar, succeeded Berenger, and preached in Languedoc,
Provence, and Dauphiné, particularly at Gap and Embrun, a few hours
distance only from the Vaudois valleys; his disciples were called
Petrobrusians, and he was martyred at S. Gilles, 1124.

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

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

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


As the Vaudois have been accused of being Manicheans, Arians, and
Cathares,* we shall be but doing our ancestors justice to appeal to
their own writings. In the preface to the French Bible, which they
printed at Neuchatel, in 1535, the Vaudois render thanks to God that
having received the treasure of the gospel from the apostles or their
immediate successors, they had always preserved to themselves the
enjoyment of this blessing. In proof of which it appears by the noble
Leiçon, dated 1100, that they had rejected and continued to reject all
traditions, nor had ever received other doctrines than those contained
in the Holy Scriptures.

     * From Cathari, white, pure.

The treatise on Antichrist, dated 1120, proves the same point; as does
that against the invocation of saints, which must have been written in
the sixth century, since it calls this error a doctrine then in the
bud, and we know that it took its rise at that period. So in all the
confessions of faith given at divers times, the Vaudois profess to have
received their tenets from father to son, from the time of the apostles.
Rorenco himself has preserved one of their petitions to the Duke of
Savoy, dated 1599, in which they say, that it is not within a few
hundred years only that they have had knowledge of the truth, and that
no one could be ignorant of their having taught the same tenets for 500
or 600 years, that is, when they openly declared against the abuses of
Rome, under their Bishop, Claude. The Vaudois of the valleys Mathias and
Meane* made the same declaration, (nearly in the same words,) when they
were forced in 1603 to quit their country, for refusing to obey the
order of Charles Emanuel, to abandon their faith. Finally in all their
memorials, petitions, and letters, they have never failed to repeat the
same thing, praying to be left in the enjoyment of that religion, which
they had professed time immemorial even before the Dukes of Savoy
were princes of Piémont. The authenticity of these petitions, &c. is
unquestionable, since they have been printed, together with the answers
to them, by order of the court of Turin, and are more than 100 in

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

Section II. Evidence of Protestant Writers

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

     * The expressions are sempre, al solito, da equi tempo,
     immemoriale, conforme all* antico soli to, conforme a loro
     antiché franchizie. The collection is printed at Turin,

     ** Portraits des hommes illustres.

Ileidanus* asserts, "that from the most remote antiquity they have
opposed the Roman Pontiff, and have always held the purest doctrine."

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

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

Section III. Testimony of Roman Catholic Authors.

Among the principal evidences in favour of the Vaudois, I must here
refer to the large collection of edicts respecting them, published
by the court of Turin. It is deemed unnecessary to recapitulate their
dates. The Monk Belvedere, chief of a mission, sent to convert the
Vaudois in 1630, in his answer to the College of Propaganda fide,*
excuses himself for not having converted a single person, because "the
valleys of Angrogna have always, and at every period, been inhabited by
heretics."--Again, Reynerus Sacco, expressly appointed by the court of
Rome, Inquisitor against the Vaudois, goes still farther than Belvedere;
and in a book he published against them, calls them Leonists, from
one of their ministers named Leon, who lived in the third century; he
affirms that no sect was so pernicious to the church as the Leonists;
and this for three reasons: 1st. Because it was the most ancient of all;
some deriving its origin from the time of Pope Sylvester (the fourth
century), and others from the Apostles themselves. 2ndly, Because it was
the most extensive, there being scarcely any country into which it had
not penetrated; and, 3dly, That instead of inspiring horror as other
sects did, by their frightful blasphemies against the Divinity, it had
a great appearance of piety; since its members "lived justly before
men, believed rightly on God, and received the Apostles' Creed; but they
blasphemed against the Roman church and clergy."**

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

     ** Bibliothèque des Pères, de Gretserus Traité contra les

The most obstinate opponents of the antiquity of the Vaudois must give
way before the authority of Claude de Seyssel, Archbishop of Turin, who
has this passage in his book against us, printed by privilege of Francis
the First of France: "The sect of Vaudois," says he, "took its origin
from one Leon, a truly religious man, who, in the time of Constantine
the Great, detesting the extreme avarice of Pope Sylvester, and the
lavish expenditure of Constantine, preferred living in poverty, with
simplicity of faith, to the reproach of accepting a rich benefice with
Sylvester. To this Leon all attached themselves who thought rightly
of their Creed." The same author, after having made useless researches
after the commencement of the Vaudois sect, concludes with these
remarkable words: "That there must be some important and efficacious
reason why this Vaudois sect had endured during so many ages. Again; all
kind of different attempts to extirpate them have been made at different
times, but they always remained victorious, and absolutely invincible,
contrary to the expectation of all."

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

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

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

Now it seems to me hardly possible, after these proofs, that anyone
should venture to deny the truly Apostolic succession of the Vaudois
church; but as some people have supposed that the Vaudois, after
receiving the opinions of the court of Rome, have subsequently been
reformed, like all those who are called Protestants; let them say when
and where the Vaudois reformation took place; and let them also account
for the silence of all historians on such an event! But as long as the
testimony above quoted, of Catholics, Protestants, Vaudois; nay, of
the very edicts of their princes, and their own petitions and replies,
exists, I shall consider it as proved that the Vaudois church, having
received the Gospel in the earliest days of Christianity, is the parent
of all the reformed churches, and has _never herself been reformed_.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     * Still the case in the valleys in 1825.

The order of the French government, in 1592, to M. de Birague, governor
of Saluces, to massacre the Vaudois, drew forth the following testimony
from one of the council of that town: "That his majesty must assuredly
have been misinformed as to these poor people, who were good men, and
did him honourable and faithful service, living peaceably with their
neighbours; with whom indeed there was no fault to find, except their
religion." To all these testimonies there is one other to be added,
of still more weight, namely, that of all the edicts which have been
_successively_ published by the court of Turin against the Vaudois; in
no one is the smallest reproach to be found on the score of probity,
good faith, or morals. This silence becomes an invaluable avowal from
those who eagerly sought some pretext to give a colour to the horrible
persecutions they authorized.

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

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

But we may well despise this slander, and consider what has been the
cause of their real purity of manners. The ecclesiastical discipline,
which has always been in great vigour, may be assigned as the cause, as
it has induced the continual study of, and meditation upon the sacred
writings. And here I must be pardoned another extract from an ancient
author. "All the people," says he, "of either sex, and of whatever age,
cease not to learn and teach; the labourer at his daily task either
teaches his comrade or learns of him, and the evening is spent in the
same instructions, even without books. He that has learnt for one week
teaches others for the next, and if any one excuses himself from want
of memory, he is told that even one word every day will amount to many
sentences at the end of a year, which in many years will form a fund of
knowledge." "I have heard with my own ears," says this author, "one
of these poor peasants repeat the whole book of Job by heart, without
missing one word; and there are others who have the whole of the New
Testament at their fingers' ends. Do any of them lead an evil life?
they are sharply rebuked, according to their discipline, and told the
Apostles lived not thus, nor must we who imitate them." Reynerus Sacco
again confirms this by saying, "The Vaudois know the whole of the New
Testament by heart, and much of the Old, (in their own language,) nor
will they hear any thing else," saying, "that all sermons which are not
proved by the Scriptures are unworthy of belief."

This then has been the foundation of Vaudois morality, they knew no
other rule of faith than the Gospel, and, as far as possible, adapted
their sentiments and conduct to it. The sacred duty of an historian
compels me to allow, that the effects of human frailty have sometimes
shown themselves among them. Leger, who wrote more than a century
ago, thus allows also, that "the Vaudois, his cotemporaries, no longer
possessed that great sanctity and detachment from the world which
distinguished their ancestors. But I must add," he continues, "that,
compared with other reformed nations, there is none which surpass them
in zeal for the word of God and constancy to their faith, at the peril
of their lives and fortunes; as well as in simplicity, innocence,
sobriety, and industry. For they abstain from cards, dice, gambling, and
swearing, and have a horror of drunkenness, and even of dancing. So that
if any one falls into a vicious life, he is esteemed infamous. Law-suits
have been from time immemorial unknown among them; but, according
to Thuanus, the first took place in the 16th century, owing to the
litigious disposition of a young man, who had gained a smattering of law
at the college of Turin, and sued his neighbour for having suffered some
goats to browse among his cabbages."

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

     * Qui vivent dans l'oisiveté, et donnent parla un exemple
     pernicieux.--Perhaps this is translated in too favourable a

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

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

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

     * The author's sister is still living in the valleys, and is
     the wife of one of the most exemplary pastors.--T.


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

Public Worship, &c.

The public worship was always celebrated in the Vaudois language till
1630, when a pestilence swept off the whole of the barbes,* then fifteen
in number, with the exception of two, who were inefficient from age.**
In consequence, pastors were invited to come from France and Geneva;
as these knew neither Vaudois nor Italian, they preached in French, a
custom which still continues, (though the churches have long been served
by Vaudois,) but though few families speak French habitually, there is
no one who does not perfectly comprehend it, all their books being in
French; and consequently the children always receive their instruction
in that language. They make use of the Swiss liturgy, not having it in
their power to print one of their own. In the holy sacraments the bread
was, until 1630, broken into three parts, and the water thrice sprinkled
in baptism, in remembrance of the Trinity.

     * Barbe, the ancient word for pastor.

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

The parishioners, without exception, assembled at the house of their
respective elders, for communion, which was celebrated four times a
year; when before Easter, and sometimes before Christmas, each person
was required by his pastor to give his reasons for his faith, and if
one was passed over, it was esteemed an affront. Oh virtuous people! why
hast thou not persisted in this laudable custom, so well calculated to
perpetuate thy happiness, and maintain thy zeal for religion? Before the
time of the plague above mentioned, the pastors each year were subject
to a visit from the moderator and two members of the synod, who, after
minute inquiries, made their report to the synod. The foreign clergy
would not submit to this ordinance, and though it has been since
re-established, these perquisitions have not been made with the same

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

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

     * Who acts as churchwarden.--T.

     ** Literally parliaments.

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

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

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

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

     ** L'intendant de la province envoyé de la part du

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

     **** Vid. anecdote of the elder Moudon of S. Jean


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

     * The Catholics use the word Barbets, as a term of reproach
     for the Vaudois.

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

There were some of these venerable men, who, like the apostles, applied
themselves to mechanical arts, but the most particular object of their
care was the instruction of youth, and especially those intended for
the church. In the most ancient times, the studies of the latter were
confined to the learning by heart the gospels of St. Matthew and St.
John, and the epistles; with a good part of the writings of Solomon,
David, and the prophets; after which on presenting good testimonials,
they were admitted into the ecclesiastical order, by the imposition of

     * Vide Note at the end of this chapter.

Not only the inhabitants of the valleys, but the youth of distant
countries came to have the instructions of our barbes. For Illyricus,*
the Papist author before quoted, affirms--"I find that it was common,
nay, customary, for Bohemians to travel from their country to their
Valdensian preceptors in Lombardy, as if to some school or college for
the sake of studying divinity."

The History of Alsace (lib. i.) makes a similar statement, with regard
to the Alsaceans preparing themselves for holy orders.

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

     * Catalog, test, veritat. cap. 15.

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

Note.--How different is this instruction from the method pursued in our
days; it sufficed then to have studied the Christian religion in the
gospel. But now a minister of the gospel must pass the flower of his
youth, in learning sciences which certainly do not render him a more
zealous and virtuous Christian, than he would have been had he studied
alone at the school of Jesus. Now, for four or five years he is to groan
beneath the study of languages:* then he goes on to the study of the
belles lettres; and then to philosophy, of little use indeed to him, and
indeed injurious, as it is taught at some universities. See here,
ten years of labour and expense! and for what? To gain a knowledge of
subjects which have no connection with the science of happiness. Ten
years, during which, the youth who has devoted himself to the preaching
of the gospel, has scarcely heard mention made of it; or if he has, only
as a necessary part of his studies; while he should have made it his
principal object. After this comes theology, which surely ought to
consist in the simple, but fundamental and thorough knowledge of
revelation; the proofs which establish its truth; and above all, the
duties which it recommends. Is this the method of study in the colleges?
By no means. It is not the gospel which they teach; it is the various
opinions of commentators, and heads of sects, on different passages of
the sacred writings. Is this to conform to the spirit of religion? is
it not, on the contrary, to engage one's self in that pretended wisdom,
that futile science it so much reproves? Let me be allowed freely to
say, that I consider the manner in which the Christian religion
is taught and learnt in our days, as the principal obstacle to its
progress. The gospel has no need of all this paraphernalia of science,
to affect the feelings or judgment.

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

It possesses in itself all that is necessary to produce these happy
effects. I have only to cast a glance back upon our good ancestors, when
our barbes studied the Bible alone, to be confirmed in my opinion.
Is there now among the nations regarded as the most enlightened, any
example of a society, which has attained to such a degree of perfection?
Surely, if the answer is in the negative, we must not deny the source of
the superiority of the ancient Vaudois over other nations, and even over
the Vaudois of the present day. It is true that the studies of our young
divines have not always been so simple. Logic, together with Italian,
French, and Latin, were added, but still there was nothing like the
present course of study. I deny not that all these sciences, (with which
it is wished to adorn divines,) may be very useful in the countries
where they are taught; as France, Germany, England, Switzerland, and
the United Provinces; but I believe all this apparatus of learning to be
totally useless in our valleys, and that it is consequently in vain
to condemn so many youths, destined to the priesthood, to such heavy
expense and waste of time;* and every enlightened person will be aware
of the cruelty of awakening these young men to the pleasures of learning
and science, when on their return to their homes, they must abandon them
from poverty, want of time, and their isolated situation. For to whom
can they communicate their sciences? to the Vaudois? they understand the
gospel alone, and are indifferent as to the rest.

     * £40. a year at least.

It must be remarked that the object of this note regards the Vaudois
alone, and that it has been added with a view of drawing their attention
to the establishment of a college, of which the author has drawn up
a plan, which will be added at the end of the history. When it is
considered what important objects may thus be obtained by a very small
comparative sacrifice of money, it is hoped the benefactors of the
Vaudois will turn their attention to it, and that some influence might
be exerted by the British government to obtain the necessary permission,
at the court of Turin.--Vide calculations of the expense by a traveller,
in 1825.



Those who are ignorant that our annals are marked by blood and misery,
will be surprised to find that the history of these virtuous and simple
Vaudois, worthy of the admiration of mankind, is little else than a
series of calamity. Nor will they be able to reconcile the barbarity
and ferocity, with which they have been persecuted, with the candour
and innocence of these victims. One word is sufficient to explain the
horrible enigma; mistaken zeal is blind to the duties of religion and
nature. Can we call those reasonable beings, who, while claiming the
privileges of the human race, utterly forgetful of humanity, massacre
thousands of their fellow-creatures in cold blood. Why is it that the
potentates of the earth have constituted themselves judges of an affair
which regards God alone? Or who has given them a right to treat as
heretics, those who think differently from themselves, or to pour out
their blood before the altars of God?

It was at the end of the fifteenth century that these scenes commenced;
for previously, though the victims of secret intrigue, the Vaudois had
suffered no open persecution. It was reserved to the Inquisition to work
their ruin. A Spanish priest named Dominic, came to France to preach
against the Vaudois of Albi or Albigenses; and succeeded so well that
his order received the title of the preachers. He established himself
at Toulouse, and thence dispatched his spies in all directions to make
_perquisitions_ for those suspected of heresy, and punish them.*

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

Gregory IX., then Pope, soon perceived the advantage he might derive
from such missionaries, and authorised the Dominicans in France and
Spain, and the Franciscans in Italy, to make inquisition (inquirere)
after heretics; as well as to try, convict, and punish them. Such is the
origin of the Inquisition, a tribunal so execrable, that it threatened
to drown the human race in blood. Its principal seat was at Rome, and
on the model of that, was established at Turin, that famous council, De
Propaganda fide et extirpendis hereticis, which we shall hereafter call
the Propaganda. This council began by declaring the Vaudois unworthy of
communication with other Christians, ordered the confiscation of their
property, the demolition of their houses, even the cutting down of
their trees; sent to all princes and sovereign lords, to require them
to search for and deliver up such heretics to the Inquisition; inflicted
heavy penalties on those who concealed them; and conferred the third
of their property on the informers, who pointed out their retreats.
But these measures were too weak; the court of Rome aimed at the utter
extirpation of this unhappy people, and committed to its ministers,
the power of delivering over to the secular arm, that is, of putting
to death without mercy, all those they considered heretics. Nay, these
ferocious missionaries pronounced sentence against corpses which had
been buried twenty and thirty years; dragged them from their tombs to
flaming piles, and confiscated the possessions of the families to which
they belonged.

A father was forced to give evidence against a son; a sister against
a brother; a wife against her husband; the bonds of nature, blood and
friendship, were esteemed as nothing, to the objects of the Inquisition;
even those suspected of heresy were rigorously punished, if they could
not procure witnesses to swear to their innocence. The accused was
ignorant of the name of his accuser, nor was he allowed any advocate,
except such as might be chosen by the Inquisition. One witness alone
was sufficient for condemnation to the torture, and even where the crime
could not be proved, the victim was never acquitted, but his name was
branded with infamy, and remained inscribed on the registers of this
relentless tribunal.

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

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

Some of the rules followed by the Inquisitors in their proceedings
against the Vaudois:

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

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

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

That during examinations, the Inquisitor should always have a book
open before him, appearing to have therein registered, a quantity of
depositions, and, indeed, the whole life of the heretic.

Inevitable death must be placed before his eyes, if he refuses to
confess and renounce his heresy. If he answers--"If I must die, then, I
prefer to die in my own faith," his execution must be hurried on as much
as possible, and _mercy never shewn_.

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

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

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

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


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

     * Foreigner's Town.--T.

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

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

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

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

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

     ** Under Pope Clement the Seventh.

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

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

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

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

     * A title frequently used by the Popes is "servant of

     ** Bearing date, Rome, 1477.

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

     * Articul o mortis.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Having chosen 500 men from the Duke's whole army, this leader attacked
the Vaudois, who had not the slightest suspicion of the violation of
the peace, and massacred them without any distinction of age or sex,
spreading consternation throughout the valleys. The following day, as
they marched into the Val de Luzerne, with the intention of continuing
the carnage, our Vaudois suddenly attacked them in front, rear, and
flank, and succeeded in destroying most of these assassins, the rest
took to flight, abandoning their prisoners and booty. Perrin (the
historian) attributes this victory, in great measure to the slings,
which the Vaudois used at that time with the greatest dexterity, and
which formed their principal weapon. Blanche, countess of Luzerne and
Angrogna, complained in vain of this perfidious invasion: two days
afterwards appeared letters from the Duke, forbidding the inhabitants of
the valleys to assemble in arms, under a penalty of one hundred silver
marks. Bressour, however, contented himself with seizing those Vaudois
who were mingled among the Catholics in Lower Piémont, and soon filled
his castle, the prisons and Convents at Pignerol, and the inquisition at
Turin, with prisoners. After they were tried by the inquisitors, vicar,
and assessors, part of them were condemned to the flames, and the rest
to several years imprisonment. There were some indeed whose fate was
never known.

The Duke, seeing that these persecutions made no impression, and having
remarked that, in open warfare, "the skin of a Vaudois always cost
fifteen or twenty of his best Catholics," by his letters, forbid them to
be further molested on any pretence whatever.

My readers will see that he was here actuated by a political motive*
Francis the First, king of France, having demanded a passage for his
army destined for the reconquest of the Milanese, the Duke thought
proper to refuse, and consequently to employ all his forces to protect
the frontiers. It was therefore necessary to engage the Vaudois to
defend their passes, through which the French could have directly
penetrated. However, notwithstanding all resistance, the enemy soon
forced their way through Savoy into Piémont; and, after bearing their
part in the sufferings of the war, the Vaudois remained under the
government of the French for twenty-three years.

They were during that time little disturbed on account of their faith,
although some individuals occasionally fell victims to the fanaticism
of the inquisition. Catelan Girardet, of St. Jean, was burnt at Revel
in 1535; as he was led to execution he took up two pebbles, and,
rubbing them together, thus addressed his persecutors: "You hope by
your persecutions to destroy our churches; you will no more obtain your
object than I can destroy these two stones in my hands." After which
he submitted to his fate with admirable resignation. In 1536, the barbe
Martin Gonin, of Angrogna, as remarkable for his learning as for his
piety, was seized at Grenoble, on his return from Geneva, and thrown
into the Isere for his perseverance in the faith.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

The Vaudois, favoured by some of the nobles, again petitioned the
Duchess to have compassion on their situation; which petition the court
forwarded to the Pope. The answer was as follows: "That the Pontiff
would by no means consent to any discussion respecting the articles of
faith; that every person must submit blindly to all the ordinances of
the Papal chair; and that mild treatment having proved useless,
recourse must now be had to vigorous measures, and to force of arms if

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

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

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

The Count having garrisoned the chief towns in the valleys, and made
successive attacks in different quarters of the passes, which all proved
futile, pretended an eager desire to treat; and for that purpose it was
arranged at Angrogna, that deputies should be sent to the Duke, and a
truce agreed upon in the interim. The Count, indeed, asserted in the
most barefaced manner, that the recent attacks were made without his
knowledge. No sooner were the deputies departed than the Count required
the inhabitants of two hamlets to surrender their arms; thus surprised
they obeyed, and retired to Angrogna. An old man of 103 was massacred,
having been found concealed; and his grand-daughter, to escape the
affronts of the soldiers, threw herself down a precipice. After ravaging
the Val de Luzerne, the Count promised to withdraw his troops on payment
of 8000 crowns. He hesitated not, however, to remain after the payment
of this sum. After committing some ravages and great cruelties, the army
was ordered into the plains below the valleys.*

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

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

     ** Cited in the second page of the original collection.

It now seemed that the utmost wishes of the Vaudois were accomplished;
but, nevertheless, on the 7th of February the army re-entered the val'
Luzerne, and after a general attack upon Angrogna, which was repulsed,
burnt many hundred houses and barns, carrying away what they could. The
Vaudois this night took possession of the strong post of Pré du Tour,
abandoning their position at Angrogna, which was seized some days after
by the Count, and a regular attack made upon them from it, as well as
from the side of val Perouse and val St.

Martin. These three simultaneous attacks all failed, with great loss to
the enemy. The Vaudois, who had only two men killed and as many wounded,
terminated the day by thanksgivings to God, who had thus preserved them
from total destruction.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

To every virtuous and honourable man, who reflects on this edict, it
must appear subversive of every principle of nature, religion, and of
policy, even without considering the perfidy of it.

This frightful tyranny owes its origin to the Inquisition, the very name
of which makes me shudder with horror.

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

     * He wrote a History of the Vaudois.

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

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


In 1570, another decree was published, forbidding the Vaudois to
assemble together, under a fine of one hundred crowns; their refusal
of obedience to this order, which so clearly violated their privileges,
greatly irritated Castrocaro, who was particularly enraged at the recent
construction of the fort of Mirabouc, on which depended the only issue
of the val Luzerne towards France, and would undoubtedly have proceeded
to great extremities against the inhabitants of Bobbi, had he been
allowed. Strict searches were also made after some of the Vaudois, who
were accused of having assisted the Protestants in France; until Charles
the Ninth requested the Duke of Savoy to forgive them, as he had already
done his own Protestant subjects.

In 1571, at a general assembly of the heads of families, six articles,
called "the articles of the union of the valleys," were drawn up; the
object of which was to bind themselves by still more solemn ties to
persevere in their religious faith, and in obedience to their prince,
when his orders were not contrary to their conscience. The news of the
massacre of St. Bartholomew, in that same year, gave them the utmost
disquietude, and the more so, as Castrocaro manifested his intention to
inflict the same punishment on all the French refugees he could find;
until he received the Duke's order to desist.

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

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


Before we proceed further it is necessary to give some account of the
Vaudois of the marquisate of Saluces, who chiefly inhabit the valley
of the Po, the most northern part of the marquisate, and only separated
from the val de Luzerne by mount Viso, at the foot of which that noble
river takes its source. We have already mentioned the colonies sent
here from the valleys at the beginning of the fourteenth century; these
increased into numerous flourishing churches, among which those of
Praviglielm, Biolet, Bietonet, and Dronierwere the principal ones, in
1561; when they had no less than nine barbes distributed among these and
other towns.

They had experienced only partial persecutions till 1572, when, (being
then under the French government,) after the dreadful day of St.
Bartholomew, M. Birague, governor of the marquisate, received an order
to put the chief Vaudois to death, and particularly those whose names
were transcribed in an accompanying list. On referring to the council,
after much discussion, the archdeacon remarked, that false reports could
alone have changed the sentiments of the king, who had before commanded
that his Protestant subjects should be treated with lenity; and he
advised that a representation of their good conduct should be sent
back, with a request for further orders. The courier charged with this
despatch met another, bearing an edict revoking the former one, and
requiring only that the Vaudois should not be allowed the public
exercise of their religion. In consequence, many who had fled returned,
and were reinstated in their possessions.

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


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

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

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


In consequence of this edict, the Count Charles, lord of Luzerne, the
governor of Turin, and the archbishop of Broglia, arrived at Luzerne,
as commissioners for its execution, accompanied by numbers of monks
and jesuits: having ordered the heads of families before them, they
commanded all who would not receive the mass to quit the town. Very few
were weak enough to comply with this condition. At Bubiana, Campillon,
and Fenil, where they next proceeded, they made no more proselytes,
and ordered all Vaudois to depart within five days, under pain of
confiscation and death. From these towns some of the chief people
were sent to Turin, where Valne Boule was presented to the prince, and
pressed by him to receive the mass; but, on refusal, was dismissed
with kindness. The others promised all that was asked of them, and soon
repented of having done so. At Perouse the archbishop had no better
success than elsewhere, and the governor of Turin falling into disgrace,
the Count of Luzerne was pressed to use his influence in favour of the
Vaudois. By his means the edict of Nice was obtained from the Duke,
in 1603; by which the religious exercises of the Vaudois were freely
permitted within the valleys, and they were allowed to trade with the
Catholics and to hold public employments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

From this time till the death of Victor Amadeus the First, in 1637,
tranquillity remained nearly uninterrupted, except by the violent
writings of Rorenco, and the monk Belvedere, which were subsequently
refuted by Gilles, pastor of La Tour, and author of the history of the

     * Printed at Geneva, 1644.


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

This establishment was divided into two bodies of supporters; the
archbishop being the head of the male, and the Marchioness di Pia-nezza
of the female, devotees.

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

The council of men formed still greater designs, in the execution of
which they were indefatigable, and sent spies and missionaries into the
valleys, who were always at hand to excite quarrels, rebellion against
church discipline, and even to carry off women and children from the
Vaudois, and attack the pastors. They cited the principal people to
appear before the tribunal at Turin, whence they scarcely ever escaped
without having been imprisoned, ill treated, or nearly ruined; nay,
often were they condemned to confiscation and banishment. Such were
the means used by the Propaganda to harass the Vaudois. An unfortunate
accident happened in 1603, which gave them more power of doing mischief.
A convent of monks had been some years established at Villar, when an
infamous traitor, whom they had engaged in their service, undertook to
excite the Vaudois to expel these missionaries; having persuaded the
wife of the pastor Manget to further the plan, she had influence enough
to induce her husband, and two others of the name of Pellene, to call
an assembly, where this subject was discussed, and the project of Manget
highly disapproved of and censured. The wife of Manget made a false
report of the decision to the two young Pellenes, who succeeded that
very evening in driving out the monks and setting fire to the convent.
It may well be supposed that the inquisitors did not lose so favourable
an opportunity; and the fact having been represented in the blackest
colours to the Duchess Regent, they obtained five or six thousand men,
under the command of Count Tedesco, who marched immediately with orders
to surprise and burn down the town of Villar.

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

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

This plot was afterwards more fully proved by two officers in De
Grancé's army,* and its details were lodged with the other MSS. by
Leger, in the Cambridge library.

     * One named De Petit Bourg.

A year had scarcely elapsed when another motive was added to the zealous
labours of the propaganda, which was the wish of establishing in the
valleys those Irish whom Cromwell had banished in consequence of the
massacres they had committed among their Protestant countrymen.

This eager desire to obtain possession of the valleys, and all that the
Vaudois possessed in them, excited a series of intrigues, which ended
in an order to Gastaldo, auditor of Luzerne, to enjoin and command the
Vaudois inhabitants of Briqueiras, S. Second, Bubiana, Fenil, Campillon,
Luzerne, St. Jean, and La Tour, to abandon those places within three
days, or receive the mass, under pain of death and confiscation of their

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

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

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

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

     ** Which excited the compassionate muse of Milton.--T.


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

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

In consequence of this spirited resistance, Pianezza had recourse to
the most infamous treachery. Having sent to demand a conference, he
protested to the deputies that his only object was to enforce the order
which had been given by Gastaldo, and that the parishes not falling
within it might rest secure of peace, if, in sign of their obedience,
they would permit a regiment of infantry and two troops of cavalry to be
quartered in their territory for two or three days.

The deputies who, unsuspicious of treason, judged of the Marquis by
themselves, assented, though M. J. Leger and some other pastors greatly
suspected the measure.

The before mentioned troops no sooner entered, than they seized the
strong points round each village, and (regardless of entreaties that
they would remain in the lower villages) pressed forward to the highest
positions. Meanwhile they were followed by the whole army, in divisions,
which marched in different directions against Angrogna, Villar, and
Bobbi, and upon the last bulwark of defence, the Prè du Tour; this last
force laid the country they passed through waste by fire and sword;
and in consequence, the error being now perceived, most of those who
inhabited the right of the Val de Luzerne, passed the mountains in the
night, and took refuge in the Val de Perouse. The inhabitants of the
other side of the valley were almost all obliged to remain, having no
means of retreat,* the passage being completely closed against them. The
enemy after gaining entire possession of the valleys, pretended to have
no intention of remaining there more than a few days, and exhorted the
Vaudois to recall their fugitive brethren, which some had the weakness
to do, trusting to the assurance given them that no harm should befall
them. Such was the situation of affairs when, on the 24th of April,
the signal was given from a hill near La Tour, called Castellas, for a
general massacre, which extended through the whole valley, and began at
the same instant neither age nor sex were spared; every refinement of
cruelty which the malice of demons could invent was put in practice.

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

The very mention of these horrors excites too much disgust to allow of
a detail of them. Violation, mutilation, and impalement were mere common
atrocities; many were roasted by slow fires; others cut in pieces while
alive, or dragged by mules, with ropes passed through their wounds; some
were blown up by gunpowder placed in the ears and mouth; many rolled off
the rocks, with their hands bound between their legs, among precipices,
where they were abandoned to a lingering death; children were carried
on pikes, and women.... But let us not dwell longer on these infernal
barbarities.* They are detailed in Leger, and the names of many of the
sufferers, and the evidence of eye witnesses there recorded. The number
who perished in the Val Luzerne alone, amounted to 250, besides children
and others, whose names have not been collected, and the men who fell
sword in hand; for nearly all the victims of these cruelties were women,
children, and old people. But the mere recital of the numbers destroyed,
cannot suffice to give an idea of the miseries endured, we must add the
horrors encountered by the survivors, wandering in utter destitution
among the mountains, in terror and want, after witnessing the murder and
outrages committed on their dearest relatives and friends.

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

     ** Leger, chap. ix. second part.

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

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

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


The very day on which this massacre was perpetrated, in various parts of
the Val de Luzerne, the Count Christophe, Seigneur de Rora, a member of
the Propaganda, sent 400 or 500 men to surprise Rora, and put all the
Vaudois they should find there to the sword; although they were included
in the promise of Pianezza, "that no harm should befall them." This band
of assassins had reached the summit of Mont Rummer, from whence they
were about to rush down upon Rora, when they were perceived by Joshua
Janavel, who had retired there for refuge. With only seven others he
took up an advantageous position, and falling upon the enemy with
great spirit, forced them to retire; killing no less than fifty in the
pursuit. On the news of this defeat, the Marquis sent to say that
these troops had not acted under his orders, and were robbers, whose
destruction he was pleased to hear of. On the very next day, Pianezza,
notwithstanding, sent 600 men to make another attack, by the hill of
Cassulet. Janavel was again fortunate enough to discover them from a
distance, and assembled twelve men, armed with pistols and cutlasses,
muskets, or slings. This feeble force he divided, and placing a party in
three places of ambush, once more repulsed the enemy, who retired with
the loss of sixty men.

The Marquis di Pianezza had again the effrontery after this, to send a
message by Count Christophe to his vassals, to assure them that the
late attack was made by mistake, and owing to a false report; and on
the following day, a third party, of 900 men, was detached for the
destruction of Rora. The intrepid Janavel attacked them at Damasser, and
drove them back upon Bianprà, where, owing to a perfect knowledge of the
mountains, the Vaudois attacked them in their march, and converted their
retreat into a shameful flight, in which great numbers perished, owing
chiefly to the cattle and other plunder they were endeavouring to carry
off with them. The Marquis now became furious, and assembling all
the troops within distance, ordered no less than 8,000 men, for the
destruction of a village composed of only twenty-five families. Three
divisions were formed, and a rendezvous given, at which they arrived
two hours too late, except the corps of Captain Mario, who, thinking his
force sufficient, formed his men into two divisions, and attacked the
Vaudois near Rummer. These brave men had the good fortune to take up
a position where their flanks and rear were well covered, and made so
vigorous a resistance, that the enemy again retired, leaving sixty on
the field, besides others who perished in their flight. Mario himself
fell into a chasm, from whence he was extricated with great difficulty;
and when languishing under a painful illness at Luzerne, he declared
that he already felt the fires of hell within him, in consequence of the
people, houses, and churches, which he had caused to be burned. He died
amidst agonies of pain and remorse.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The news of the severity with which the Vaudois had been treated having
now been spread throughout Europe, had awakened the sympathy of all the
Protestant powers; the British ambassadors extraordinary have already
been mentioned, and we must not here omit, that, on the publication
of Gastaldo's proclamation, in 1655, the Swiss cantons interfered in a
similar manner. The only reply to the statement of the fidelity, &c. of
the Vaudois, being a complaint of their great insolence, particularly as
manifested on Christmas day, 1654; thus grounding their conduct on some
ridiculous masquerading which took place on that day, and which was
afterwards allowed by Gastaldo himself to have been conducted by
Catholics. So much for the reasons given for driving the Vaudois from
their ancient possessions beyond the three valleys. The further order
for the massacre has been (it will be remembered) justified by their
self-defence on that occasion, when attacked, even within the bounds
assigned for their allowed possessions.

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

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

     * See copies in Leger.

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

     * Afterwards, in his banishment, he wrote his valuable

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


On the 18th of August, articles of peace were finally concluded. In the
intermediate time, Mons. de Wits had received letters from the English
envoy extraordinary, Morland, requesting him to delay the conclusion
of the treaty, hoping himself to arrive in time to take part in the

The details of the negociations can hardly at this time excite much
interest; the agents of the Duke were most imperious in their demands,
choosing always to treat the Vaudois like obstinate rebels, and
notwithstanding the protestations of these oppressed people, the treaty
was entitled a "patente de grace", and in the preamble they were
represented as "culpable in having taken up arms," and said to be
pardoned by the "sovereign clemency" of their prince.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     To M. J. Leger,
     who has always supported the interests of the valleys, £100
     To eight ministers in the territory of Savoy,          £320
     To three ditto in the territory of France               £30
     To one head schoolmaster                                £20
     To thirteen other schoolmasters                         £69
     To four students of theology and medicine               £40
     To a physician and surgeon                              £35

     Annual amount                                 Sterling £614"

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

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

     ** Jones says, £38,241 1s. 6d.--T.


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

From the Swiss cantons M. Van Ommeren went to Geneva, to confer with the
British envoys, Morland, Pell, and Douning; and thence to Paris, where
he urged the king to take into consideration the complaints of the
Vaudois against the treaty of Pignerol, just concluded, and in which he
had appeared in the character of a mediator, by means of his minister M.
Servient. A person of confidence (M. de Bais, maréchal de camp) was in
consequence sent to inquire into the truth of the facts. He obtained
at a meeting of the principal Vaudois, at La Tour, in March, 1656, a
justificatory recital of the complaints of the valleys, a letter to the
king of France, and another to M. Le Serdigences, governor of Dauphiné,
with which he sought redress at the court of Turin; but his object was
defeated by the agents of the Propaganda, who so contrived to disguise
the truth, that he seemed suddenly to have lost all that insight into
the affairs of the Vaudois, which he had obtained by his visit to the
valleys. The king of France was, however, so touched by the letter of
the Vaudois that he was about again to intercede, when the intrigues of
the same agents had the effect of convincing him that the statements of
the Vaudois were without foundation.


Charles Gustavus, king of Sweden, replied with great warmth to the
letter which Cromwell addressed to him in favour of the Vaudois,
testifying the horror he felt at such cruelties, and his desire to
support the cause of the Gospel with the same energy as the Protector.

This king also wrote to the court of Turin, earnestly to request that
the Vaudois might not be disturbed in their possessions and privileges;
and soon after desired that M. J. Leger should be sent to him, that
he might receive from him all necessary details, and take efficient
measures for the re-establishment of the Vaudois. A premature death
unfortunately put a stop to his benevolent intentions.

The elector Palatine acted similarly in writing to Turin.

Frederick William, elector of Brandenburg, interested himself in the
most lively manner, corresponding with the other Protestant courts on
the subject, and offering a general collection.

The landgrave, William, of Hesse Cassel, exhibited the same spirit of
charity, and acted with equal energy.

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

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

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

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

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "L'Histoire Des Vaudois - From Authentic Details of the Valdenses" ***

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