Massacre of Hugeunots at Paris on the Eve of St. Bartholomew
The ringing of the bell of St. Germain was answered by the bells of all the churches, and by a discharge of fire-arms in different parts of the city. Paris resounded with savage yells and howls which brought multitudes of terror-stricken people out of their lodging-places, not only unarmed, but many of them half dressed. Some tried to go to Coligni's house for protection, but the soldiers killed them before they could move scarcely a step. The palace of the Louvre seemed to hold out a refuge, but the frightened people were driven away from there also by men armed with swords and guns.
Escape was almost impossible; the numerous lights that had, with fiendish cunning, been placed in the windows deprived the fugitives of the shelter which darkness would have afforded. Bands of murderers swept the streets in all directions, killing every one they met. From the streets they rushed into the houses; they broke open the doors, and spared neither age, sex, nor condition. A white cross had been put in the hats of the armed ruffians to distinguish them. Even some priests took part in the bloody work; and going ahead of the murderers urged them, in God's name, to spare none.
When daylight appeared, Paris presented a most appalling scene of slaughter. Headless bodies were hanging from the windows; gateways were blocked up with the dead and dying; and whole streets were filled with mutilated corpses. Even the palace of the Louvre was the scene of great carnage; the guards were drawn up around it, and the unfortunate Huguenots in the place were called out, one after another, and killed with the soldiers' halberts. Most of them died without complaining or even speaking; but some appealed tot the public faith and the sacred promises of the king. "Great God!" said they, "defend the oppressed. Just Judge! avenge this cruelty." Even the king Navarre's servants, who lived in the palace, were killed as they lay sleeping in bed with their wives.
The duke of Guise and his companions, Tavennes, Montpensier, and Angouleme, rode through the streets, encouraging the murderers. Guise told them that it was the king's command to kill the very last one of the heretics, and to crush the race of vipers. Tavannes ferociously exclaimed, "Bleed! bleed! The doctors tell us that bleeding is as beneficial in August as in May." These fierce words were not lost upon the infuriated soldiers, and the different companies rivaled each other in atrocity. One Cruce, a goldsmith, boasted of having killed one hundred persons with his own hands.
The massacre lasted during the whole week, but after the third day its fury was considerable abated; in fact, on Tuesday a proclamation was issued for putting an end to it, but no measures were taken for enforcing the order; but the armed bands were no longer urged on to the slaughter. Some of the horrors endured during that awful week of butchery, are thus described by a young Frenchman, named Sully, who narrowly escaped with his life.
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