Further Persecutions in the Valleys of Piedmont, in the Seventeenth Century
Further Persecutions in the Valleys of Piedmont, in the Seventeenth Century
Giovanni Pelanchion, for refusing to turn papist, was tied by one leg to the tail of a mule, and dragged through the streets of Lucerne, amidst the acclamations of an inhuman mob, who kept stoning him, and crying out, "He is possessed with the devil, so that, neither stoning, nor dragging him through the streets, will kill him, for the devil keeps him alive." They then took him to the river side, chopped off his head, and left that and his body unburied, upon the bank of the stream.
Magdalen, the daughter of Peter Fontaine, a beautiful child of ten years of age, was ravished and murdered by the soldiers. Another girl of about the same age, they roasted alive at Villa Nova; and a poor woman, hearing that the soldiers were coming toward her house, snatched up the cradle in which her infant son was asleep, and fled toward the woods. The soldiers, however, saw and pursued her; when she lightened herself by putting down the cradle and child, which the soldiers no sooner came to, than they murdered the infant, and continuing the pursuit, found the mother in a cave, where they first ravished, and then cut her to pieces.
Jacob Michelino, chief elder of the church of Bobbio, and several other Protestants, were hung up by means of hooks fixed in their bellies, and left to expire in the most excruciating tortures.
Giovanni Rostagnal, a venerable Protestant, upwards of fourscore years of age, had his nose and ears cut off, and slices cut from the fleshy parts of his body, until he bled to death.
Seven persons, viz. Daniel Seleagio and his wife, Giovanni Durant, Lodwich Durant, Bartholomew Durant, Daniel Revel, and Paul Reynaud, had their mouths stuffed with gunpowder, which being set fire to, their heads were blown to pieces.
Jacob Birone, a schoolmaster of Rorata, for refusing to change his religion, was stripped quite naked; and after having been very indecently exposed, had the nails of his toes and fingers torn off with red-hot pincers, and holes bored through his hands with the point of a dagger. He then had a cord tied round his middle, and was led through the streets with a soldier on each side of him. At every turning the soldier on his right hand side cut a gash in his flesh, and the soldier on his left hand side struck him with a bludgeon, both saying, at the same instant, "Will you go to Mass? will you go to Mass?" He still replied in the negative to these interrogatories, and being at length taken to the bridge, they cut off his head on the balustrades, and threw both that and his body into the river.
Paul Garnier, a very pious Protestant, had his eyes put out, was then flayed alive, and being divided into four parts, his quarters were placed on four of the principal houses of Lucerne. He bore all his sufferings with the most exemplary patience, praised God as long as he could speak, and plainly evinced, what confidence and resignation a good conscience can inspire.
Daniel Cardon, of Rocappiata, being apprehended by some soldiers, they cut his head off, and having fried his brains, ate them. Two poor old blind women, of St. Giovanni, were burnt alive; and a widow of La Torre, with her daughter, were driven into the river, and there stoned to death.
Paul Giles, on attempting to run away from some soldiers, was shot in the neck: they then slit his nose, sliced his chin, stabbed him, and gave his carcass to the dogs.
Some of the Irish troops having taken eleven men of Garcigliana prisoners, they made a furnace red hot, and forced them to push each other in until they came to the last man, whom they pushed in themselves.
Michael Gonet, a man of ninety, was burnt to death; Baptista Oudri, another old man, was stabbed; and Bartholomew Frasche had holes made in his heels, through which ropes were put; then he was dragged by them to the jail, where his wounds mortified and killed him.
Magdalene de la Piere being pursued by some of the soldiers, and taken, was thrown down a precipice, and dashed to pieces. Margaret Revella, and Mary Pravillerin, two very old women, were burnt alive; and Michael Bellino, with Ann Bochardno, were beheaded.
The son and the daughter of a counsellor of Giovanni were rolled down a steep hill together, and suffered to perish in a deep pit at the bottom. A tradesman's family, viz.: himself, his wife, and an infant in her arms, were cast from a rock, and dashed to pieces; and Joseph Chairet and Paul Carniero were flayed alive.
Cypriania Bustia, being asked if he would renounce his religion and turn Roman Catholic, replied, "I would rather renounce life, or turn dog"; to which a priest answered, "For that expression you shall both renounce life, and be given to the dogs." They, accordingly, dragged him to prison, where he continued a considerable time without food, until he was famished; after which they threw his corpse into the street before the prison, and it was devoured by dogs in the most shocking manner.
Margaret Saretta was stoned to death, and then thrown into the river; Antonio Bartina had his head cleft asunder; and Joseph Pont was cut through the middle of his body.
Daniel Maria, and his whole family, being ill of a fever, several papist ruffians broke into his house, telling him they were practical physicians, and would give them all present ease, which they did by knocking the whole family on the head.
Three infant children of a Protestant, named Peter Fine, were covered with snow, and stifled; an elderly widow, named Judith, was beheaded, and a beautiful young woman was stripped naked, and had a stake driven through her body, of which she expired.
Lucy, the wife of Peter Besson, a woman far gone in her pregnancy, who lived in one of the villages of the Piedmontese valleys, determined, if possible, to escape from such dreadful scenes as everywhere surrounded her: she, accordingly took two young children, one in each hand, and set off towards the Alps. But on the third day of the journey she was taken in labor among the mountains, and delivered of an infant, who perished through the extreme inclemency of the weather, as did the two other children; for all three were found dead by her, and herself just expiring, by the person to whom she related the above particulars.
Francis Gros, the son of a clergyman, had his flesh slowly cut from his body into small pieces, and put into a dish before him; two of his children were minced before his sight; and his wife was fastened to a post, that she might behold all these cruelties practiced on her husband and offspring. The tormentors at length being tired of exercising their cruelties, cut off the heads of both husband and wife, and then gave the flesh of the whole family to the dogs.
The sieur Thomas Margher fled to a cave, when the soldiers shut up the mouth, and he perished with famine. Judith Revelin, and seven children, were barbarously murdered in their beds; and a widow of near fourscore years of age, was hewn to pieces by soldiers.
Jacob Roseno was ordered to pray to the saints, which he absolutely refused to do: some of the soldiers beat him violently with bludgeons to make him comply, but he still refusing, several of them fired at him, and lodged a great many balls in his body. As he was almost expiring, they cried to him, "Will you call upon the saints? Will you pray to the saints?" To which he answered "No! No! No!" when one of the soldiers, with a broadsword, clove his head asunder, and put an end to his sufferings in this world; for which undoubtedly, he is gloriously rewarded in the next.
A soldier, attempting to ravish a young woman, named Susanna Gacquin, she made a stout resistance, and in the struggle pushed him over a precipice, when he was dashed to pieces by the fall. His comrades, instead of admiring the virtue of the young woman, and applauding her for so nobly defending her chastity, fell upon her with their swords, and cut her to pieces.
Giovanni Pulhus, a poor peasant of La Torre, being apprehended as a Protestant by the soldiers, was ordered, by the marquis of Pianesta, to be executed in a place near the convent. When he came to the gallows, several monks attended, and did all they could to persuade him to renounce his religion. But he told them he never would embrace idolatry, and that he was happy at being thought worthy to suffer for the name of Christ. They then put him in mind of what his wife and children, who depended upon his labor, would suffer after his decease; to which he replied, "I would have my wife and children, as well as myself, to consider their souls more than their bodies, and the next world before this; and with respect to the distress I may leave them in, God is merciful, and will provide for them while they are worthy of his protection." Finding the inflexibility of this poor man, the monks cried, "Turn him off! turn him off!" which the executioner did almost immediately, and the body being afterward cut down, was flung into the river.
Paul Clement, an elder of the church of Rossana, being apprehended by the monks of a neighboring monastery, was carried to the market place of that town, where some Protestants had just been executed by the soldiers. He was shown the dead bodies, in order that the sight might intimidate him. On beholding the shocking subjects, he said, calmly, "You may kill the body, but you cannot prejudice the soul of a true believer; but with respect to the dreadful spectacles which you have here shown me, you may rest assured, that God's vengeance will overtake the murderers of those poor people, and punish them for the innocent blood they have spilt." The monks were so exasperated at this reply that they ordered him to be hanged directly; and while he was hanging, the soldiers amused themselves in standing at a distance, and shooting at the body as at a mark.
Daniel Rambaut, of Vilario, the father of a numerous family, was apprehended, and, with several others, committed to prison, in the jail of Paysana. Here he was visited by several priests, who with continual importunities did all they could to persuade him to renounce the Protestant religion and turn papist; but this he peremptorily refused, and the priests finding his resolution, pretended to pity his numerous family, and told him that he might yet have his life, if he would subscribe to the belief of the following articles:
\# The real presence of the host.
\# The pope's infallibility.
\# That masses said for the dead will release souls from purgatory.
\# That praying to saints will procure the remission of sins.
M. Rambaut told the priests that neither his religion, his understanding, nor his conscience, would suffer him to subscribe to any of the articles, for the following reasons:
\# That to believe the real presence in the host, is a shocking union of both blasphemy and idolatry.
\# That to fancy the words of consecration perform what the papists call transubstantiation, by converting the wafer and wine into the real and identical body and blood of Christ, which was crucified, and which afterward ascended into heaven, is too gross an absurdity for even a child to believe, who was come to the least glimmering of reason; and that nothing but the most blind superstition could make the Roman Catholics put a confidence in anything so completely ridiculous.
\# That the doctrine of purgatory was more inconsistent and absurd than a fairy tale.
\# That the pope's being infallible was an impossibility, and the pope arrogantly laid claim to what could belong to God only, as a perfect being.
\# That saying Masses for the dead was ridiculous, and only meant to keep up a belief in the fable of purgatory, as the fate of all is finally decided, on the departure of the soul from the body.
\# That praying to saints for the remission of sins is misplacing adoration; as the saints themselves have occasion for an intercessor in Christ. Therefore, as God only can pardon our errors, we ought to sue to him alone for pardon.
The priests were so highly offended at M. Rambaut's answers to the articles to which they would have had him subscribe, that they determined to shake his resolution by the most cruel method imaginable: they ordered one joint of his finger to be cut off every day until all his fingers were gone: they then proceeded in the same manner with his toes; afterward they alternately cut off, daily, a hand and a foot; but finding that he bore his sufferings with the most admirable patience, increased both in fortitude and resignation, and maintained his faith with steadfast resolution and unshaken constancy they stabbed him to the heart, and then gave his body to be devoured by the dogs.
Peter Gabriola, a Protestant gentleman of considerable eminence, being seized by a troop of soldiers, and refusing to renounce his religion, they hung a great number of little bags of gunpowder about his body, and then setting fire to them, blew him up.
Anthony, the son of Samuel Catieris, a poor dumb lad who was extremely inoffensive, was cut to pieces by a party of the troops; and soon after the same ruffians entered the house of Peter Moniriat, and cut off the legs of the whole family, leaving them to bleed to death, as they were unable to assist themselves, or to help each other.
Daniel Benech being apprehended, had his nose slit, his ears cut off, and was then divided into quarters, each quarter being hung upon a tree, and Mary Monino had her jaw bones broke and was then left to anguish till she was famished.
Mary Pelanchion, a handsome widow, belonging to the town of Vilario, was seized by a party of the Irish brigades, who having beat her cruelly, and ravished her, dragged her to a high bridge which crossed the river, and stripped her naked in a most indecent manner, hung her by the legs to the bridge, with her head downwards towards the water, and then going into boats, they fired at her until she expired.
Mary Nigrino, and her daughter who was an idiot, were cut to pieces in the woods, and their bodies left to be devoured by wild beasts: Susanna Bales, a widow of Vilario, was immured until she perished through hunger; and Susanna Calvio running away from some soldiers and hiding herself in a barn, they set fire to the straw and burnt her.
Paul Armand was hacked to pieces; a child named Daniel Bertino was burnt; Daniel Michialino had his tongue plucked out, and was left to perish in that condition; and Andreo Bertino, a very old man, who was lame, was mangled in a most shocking manner, and at length had his belly ripped open, and his bowels carried about on the point of a halbert.
Constantia Bellione, a Protestant lady, being apprehended on account of her faith, was asked by a priest if she would renounce the devil and go to Mass; to which she replied, "I was brought up in a religion by which I was always taught to renounce the devil; but should I comply with your desire, and go to Mass, I should be sure to meet him there in a variety of shapes." The priest was highly incensed at what she said, and told her to recant, or she would suffer cruelly. The lady, however, boldly answered that she valued not any sufferings he could inflict, and in spite of all the torments he could invent, she would keep her conscience pure and her faith inviolate. The priest then ordered slices of her flesh to be cut off from several parts of her body, which cruelty she bore with the most singular patience, only saying to the priest, "What horrid and lasting torments will you suffer in hell, for the trifling and temporary pains which I now endure." Exasperated at this expression, and willing to stop her tongue, the priest ordered a file of musqueteers to draw up and fire upon her, by which she was soon despatched, and sealed her martyrdom with her blood.
A young woman named Judith Mandon, for refusing to change her religion and embrace popery, was fastened to a stake, and sticks thrown at her from a distance, in the very same manner as that barbarous custom which was formerly practiced on Shrove-Tuesday, of shying at rocks, as it was termed. By this inhuman proceeding, the poor creature's limbs were beat and mangled in a terrible manner, and her brains were at last dashed out by one of the bludgeons.
David Paglia and Paul Genre, attempting to escape to the Alps, with each his son, were pursued and overtaken by the soldiers in a large plain. Here they hunted them for their diversion, goading them with their swords, and making them run about until they dropped down with fatigue. When they found that their spirits were quite exhausted, and that they could not afford them any more barbarous sport by running, the soldiers hacked them to pieces, and left their mangled bodies on the spot.
A young man of Bobbio, named Michael Greve, was apprehended in the town of La Torre, and being led to the bridge, was thrown over into the river. As he could swim very well, he swam down the stream, thinking to escape, but the soldiers and the mob followed on both sides of the river, and kept stoning him, until receiving a blow on one of his temples, he was stunned, and consequently sunk and was drowned.
David Armand was ordered to lay his head down on a block, when a soldier, with a large hammer, beat out his brains. David Baridona being apprehended at Vilario, was carried to La Torre, where, refusing to renounce his religion, he was tormented by means of brimstone matches being tied between his fingers and toes, and set fire to; and afterward, by having his flesh plucked off with red- hot pincers, until he expired; and Giovanni Barolina, with his wife, were thrown into a pool of stagnant water, and compelled, by means of pitchforks and stones, to duck down their heads until they were suffocated.
A number of soldiers went to the house of Joseph Garniero, and before they entered, fired in at the window, to give notice of their approach. A musket ball entered one of Mrs. Garniero's breasts, as she was suckling an infant with the other. On finding their intentions, she begged hard that they would spare the life of the infant, which they promised to do, and sent it immediately to a Roman Catholic nurse. They then took the husband and hanged him at his own door, and having shot the wife through the head, they left her body weltering in its blood, and her husband hanging on the gallows.
Isaiah Mondon, an elderly man, and a pious Protestant, fled from the merciless persecutors to a cleft in a rock, where he suffered the most dreadful hardships; for, in the midst of the winter he was forced to lie on the bare stone, without any covering; his food was the roots he could scratch up near his miserable habitation; and the only way by which he could procure drink, was to put snow in his mouth until it melted. Here, however, some of the inhuman soldiers found him, and after having beaten him unmercifully, they drove him towards Lucerne, goading him with the points of their swords. Being exceedingly weakened by his manner of living, and his spirits exhausted by the blows he had received, he fell down in the road. They again beat him to make him proceed: when on his knees, he implored them to put him out of his misery, by despatching him. This they at last agreed to do; and one of them stepping up to him shot him through the head with a pistol, saying, "There, heretic, take thy request."
Mary Revol, a worthy Protestant, received a shot in her back, as she was walking along the street. She dropped down with the wound, but recovering sufficient strength, she raised herself upon her knees, and lifting her hands towards heaven, prayed in a most fervent manner to the Almighty, when a number of soldiers, who were near at hand, fired a whole volley of shot at her, many of which took effect, and put an end to her miseries in an instant.
Several men, women, and children secreted themselves in a large cave, where they continued for some weeks in safety. It was the custom for two of the men to go when it was necessary, and by stealth, procure provisions. These were, however, one day watched, by which the cave was discovered, and soon after, a troop of Roman Catholics appeared before it. The papists that assembled upon this occasion were neighbors and intimate acquaintances of the Protestants in the cave; and some were even related to each other. The Protestants, therefore, came out, and implored them, by the ties of hospitality, by the ties of blood, and as old acquaintances and neighbors, not to murder them. But superstition overcomes every sensation of nature and humanity; so that the papists, blinded by bigotry, told them they could not show any mercy to heretics, and, therefore, bade them prepare to die. Hearing this, and knowing the fatal obstinacy of the Roman Catholics, the Protestants all fell prostate, lifted their hands and hearts to heaven, prayed with great sincerity and fervency, and then bowing down, put their faces close to the ground, and patiently waited their fate, which was soon decided, for the papists fell upon them with unremitting fury, and having cut them to pieces, left the mangled bodies and limbs in the cave.
Giovanni Salvagiot, passing by a Roman Catholic church, and not taking off his hat, was followed by some of the congregation, who fell upon and murdered him; and Jacob Barrel and his wife, having been taken prisoners by the earl of St. Secondo, one of the duke of Savoy's officers, he delivered them up to the soldiery, who cut off the woman's breasts, and the man's nose, and then shot them both through the head.
Anthony Guigo, a Protestant, of a wavering disposition, went to Periero, with an intent to renounce his religion and embrace popery. This design he communicated to some priests, who highly commended it, and a day was fixed upon for his public recantation. In the meantime, Anthony grew fully sensible of his perfidy, and his conscience tormented him so much night and day that he determined not to recant, but to make his escape. This he effected, but being soon missed and pursued, he was taken. The troops on the way did all they could to bring him back to his design of recantation; but finding their endeavors ineffectual, they beat him violently on the road. When coming near a precipice, he took an opportunity of leaping down it and was dashed to pieces.
A Protestant gentleman, of considerable fortune, at Bobbio, being nightly provoked by the insolence of a priest, retorted with great severity; and among other things, said, that the pope was Antichrist, Mass idolatry, purgatory a farce, and absolution a cheat. To be revenged, the priest hired five desperate ruffians, who, the same evening, broke into the gentleman's house, and seized upon him in a violent manner. The gentleman was terribly frightened, fell on his knees, and implored mercy; but the desperate ruffians despatched him without the least hesitation.