Edited by William Byron Forbush This is a book that will never die — one of the great English classics. . . . Reprinted here in its most complete form, it brings to life the days when “a noble army, men and boys, the matron and the maid,” “climbed the steep ascent of heaven, ‘mid peril, toil, and pain.” “After the Bible itself, no book so profoundly influenced early Protestant sentiment as the Book of Martyrs. Even in our time, it is still a living force. It is more than a record of persecution. It is an arsenal of controversy, a storehouse of romance, as well as a source of edification.”
Fox’s Book of Martyrs is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Massacre and Pillage at Nismes
Nismes now exhibited a most awful scene of outrage and carnage, though many of the Protestants had fled to the Convennes and the Gardonenque. The country houses of Messrs. Rey, Guiret, and several others had been pillaged, and the inhabitants treated with wanton barbarity. Two parties had glutted their savage appetites on the farm of Madame Frat: the first, after eating, drinking, and breaking the furniture, and stealing what they thought proper, took leave by announcing the arrival of their comrades, ‘compared with whom,’ they said, ‘they should be thought merciful.’ Three men and an old woman were left on the premises: at the sight of the second company, two of the men fled. “Are you a Catholic?” said the banditti to the old woman. “Yes.” “Repeat, then, your Pater and Ave.” Being terrified, she hesitated and was instantly knocked down with a musket. On recovering her senses, she stole out of the house, but met Ladet, the old valet de ferme, bringing in a salad which the depredators had ordered him to cut. In vain she endeavored to persuade him to fly. “Are you a Protestant?” they exclaimed; “I am.” A musket being discharged at him, he fell wounded, but not dead. To consummate their work, the monsters lighted a fire with straw and boards, threw their living victim into the flames, and suffered him to expire in the most dreadful agonies. They then ate their salad, omelet, etc. The next day, some laborers, seeing the house open and deserted, entered, and discovered the half consumed body of Ladet. The prefect of the Gard, M. Darbaud Jouques, attempting to palliate the crimes of the Catholics, had the audacity to assert that Ladet was a Catholic; but this was publicly contradicted by two of the pastors at Nismes.
Another party committed a dreadful murder at St. Cezaire, upon Imbert la Plume, the husband of Suzon Chivas. He was met on returning from work in the fields. The chief promised him his life, but insisted that he must be conducted to the prison at Nismes. Seeing, however, that the party was determined to kill him, he resumed his natural character, and being a powerful and courageous man advanced and exclaimed, “You are brigands–fire!” Four of them fired, and he fell, but he was not dead; and while living they mutilated his body; and then passing a cord round it, drew it along, attached to a cannon of which they had possession. It was not until after eight days that his relatives were apprised of his death. Five individuals of the family of Chivas, all husbands and fathers, were massacred in the course of a few days.
The merciless treatment of the women, in this persecution at Nismes, was such as would have disgraced any savages ever heard of. The widows Rivet and Bernard were forced to sacrifice enormous sums; and the house of Mrs. Lecointe was ravaged, and her goods destroyed. Mrs. F. Didier had her dwelling sacked and nearly demolished to the foundation. A party of these bigots visited the widow Perrin, who lived on a litle farm at the windmills; having committed every species of devastation, they attacked even the sanctuary of the dead, which contained the relics of her family. They dragged the coffins out, and scattered the contents over the adjacent grounds. In vain this outraged widow collected the bones of her ancestors and replaced them: they were again dug up; and, after several useless efforts, they were reluctantly left spread over the surface of the fields.
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