Thursday, August 27, 2015

St. Bartholomew's Massacre August 27th

This day August 27, 1572 saw the massacre spreads to Orleans and Borges.  It began with Chapeaux, a royal councilor and Protestant in Orleans, receiving La Court, a Romanist and soon to be leader of the massacre, in his home and feeding him a meal.  After the meal La Court informed Chapeaux of the massacre in Paris, took his money purse and killed him.  It then began in earnest the next morning and went for four days.  The murders here went about their killing singing the psalms to mock the Huguenots as they used the psalms in their worship.  One Huguenot fencing teacher managed to kill a few attackers, but the massacre was mostly by surprise and found little resistance.  The killing in Orleans was particularly brutal and had a rather high death toll.  It was afterward boasted that 1200 men, 150 women, and many children were slain by the Orleans mob in the four days and then dumped into the river.

In Paris the murders and hysteria began to abate.  It is this day that people begin to try and flee.  Peter Merlin, the chaplain of Admiral Coligny, got up from his hiding place and began to flee.  He had been sustained for three day by a chicken laying an egg in front of him in the barn he hid every morning.  The future Duke of Sully, who was only 12, was removed from the closet where he had been hidden by a priest for three days.  He was smuggled out of town and eventually grew to be an adviser to King Henry IV.  Still, it was not over in Paris, and as we have seen only just beginning in many other cities. Some say the Royal Family finally left the Louvre, but others say they had not yet felt safe enough to venture outside and would not until the 31st.

It is actually these events that bring forth massacre into the English language.  Before it was simply a French word for butcher block, but because of what happens here it becomes known for mass killing, and is used from this time on in English in that way.

You might want to listen to quick discussion about the massacre with some noted historians.  Thanks to Dr. Clark for posting it.