Histoire Des Choses Arrivées De Son Temps

Author: Maximilian de Béthune  | Date: 1659

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De Thou Paris 1659

The Massacre of St. Bartholomew


I was in bed, and awaked from sleep three hours after midnight, by the sound of all the bells, and the confused cries of the populace. My governor St. Julian, with my valet de chambre, went hastily out to know the cause; and I never afterwards heard more of these men, who without doubt were amongst the first that were sacrificed to the public fury.

I continued alone in my chamber dressing myself, when in a few moments I saw my landlord enter, pale, and in the utmost consternation: he was of the reformed religion, and having learned what the matter was, had consented to go to mass, to save his life, and preserve his house from being pillaged. He came to persuade me to do the same, and to take me with him. I did not think proper to follow him, but resolved to try if I could gain the college of Burgundy, where I had studied: though the great distance between the house where I was, and the college, made the attempt very dangerous.

Having disguised myself in a scholar’s gown, I put a large prayer-book under my arm, and went into the street. I was seized with horror inexpressible, at the sight of the furious murderers, who, running from all parts, forced open the houses, and cried aloud, "Kill, kill, massacre the Huguenots!" The blood which I saw shed before my eyes redoubled my terror. I fell into the midst of a body of guards; they stopped me, interrogated me, and were beginning to use me ill, when, happily for me, the book that I carried was perceived, and served me for a passport.

Twice after this I fell into the same danger, from which I extricated myself with the same good fortune. At last I arrived at the college of Burgundy, where a danger still greater than any I had yet met with, waited me. The porter having twice refused me entrance, I continued standing in the midst of the street, at the mercy of the furious murderers, whose numbers increased every moment, and who were evidently seeking for their prey, when it came into my mind to ask for La Faye, the principal of this college, a good man, by whom I was tenderly beloved. The porter, prevailed upon by some small pieces of money which I put into his hand, admitted me; and my friend carried me to his apartment, where two inhuman priests, whom I heard mention Sicilian vespers, wanted to force me from him, that they might cut me in pieces, saying fire order was, not to spare even infants at the breast. All the good man could do was to conduct me privately to a distant chamber, where he locked me up. Here I was confined three days, uncertain of my destiny; and saw no one but a servant of my friend’s, who came from time to time to bring me provisions.

At the end of these three days, the prohibition for murdering, and pillaging any more of the protestants, being published, I was suffered to leave my cell; and immediately after I saw two soldiers of the guard, who were my father’s creatures, enter the college. They were armed, and came, without doubt, to rescue me by force wherever they should find me. They gave my father a relation of what had happened to me; and eight days afterwards I received a letter from him, in which he expressed the fears he had suffered on my account, and advised me to continue in Paris, since the prince I served [Henry of Navarre] was not at liberty to quit it. He added, that to avoid exposing myself to an evident danger, it was necessary I should resolve to follow that prince’s example, and to go to mass. In effect, the king of Navarre had found no other means of saving his life.

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Chicago: Maximilian de Béthune, Histoire Des Choses Arrivées De Son Temps, ed. De Thou in History in the First Person: Eyewitnesses of Great Events: They Saw It Happen, ed. Louis Leo Snyder and Richard B. Morris (Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole Co., 1951), Original Sources, accessed April 24, 2024, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=3LQXGX1EFF54PFK.

MLA: de Béthune, Maximilian. Histoire Des Choses Arrivées De Son Temps, edited by De Thou, in History in the First Person: Eyewitnesses of Great Events: They Saw It Happen, edited by Louis Leo Snyder and Richard B. Morris, Harrisburg, Pa., Stackpole Co., 1951, Original Sources. 24 Apr. 2024. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=3LQXGX1EFF54PFK.

Harvard: de Béthune, M, Histoire Des Choses Arrivées De Son Temps, ed. . cited in 1951, History in the First Person: Eyewitnesses of Great Events: They Saw It Happen, ed. , Stackpole Co., Harrisburg, Pa.. Original Sources, retrieved 24 April 2024, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=3LQXGX1EFF54PFK.