Urbain Grandier HTML version

Chapter 8
The exposure of the plot was most prejudicial to the prosperity of the Ursuline
community: spurious possession, far from bringing to their convent an increase of
subscriptions and enhancing their reputation, as Mignon had promised, had ended for
them in open shame, while in private they suffered from straitened circumstances, for the
parents of their boarders hastened to withdraw their daughters from the convent, and the
nuns in losing their pupils lost their sole source of income. Their, fall in the estimation of
the public filled them with despair, and it leaked out that they had had several altercations
with their director, during which they reproached him for having, by making them
commit such a great sin, overwhelmed them with infamy and reduced them to misery,
instead of securing for them the great spiritual and temporal advantages he had promised
them. Mignon, although devoured by hate, was obliged to remain quiet, but he was none
the less as determined as ever to have revenge, and as he was one of those men who
never give up while a gleam of hope remains, and whom no waiting can tire, he bided his
time, avoiding notice, apparently resigned to circumstances, but keeping his eyes fixed on
Grandier, ready to seize on the first chance of recovering possession of the prey that had
escaped his hands. And unluckily the chance soon presented itself.
It was now 1633: Richelieu was at the height of his power, carrying out his work of
destruction, making castles fall before him where he could not make heads fall, in the
spirit of John Knox's words, "Destroy the nests and the crows will disappear." Now one
of these nests was the crenellated castle of Loudun, and Richelieu had therefore ordered
its demolition.
The person appointed to carry out this order was a man such as those whom Louis XI.
had employed fifty years earlier to destroy the feudal system, and Robespierre one
hundred and fifty years later to destroy the aristocracy. Every woodman needs an axe,
every reaper a sickle, and Richelieu found the instrument he required in de
Laubardemont, Councillor of State.
But he was an instrument full of intelligence, detecting by the manner in which he was
wielded the moving passion of the wielder, and adapting his whole nature with
marvellous dexterity to gratify that passion according to the character of him whom it
possessed; now by a rough and ready impetuosity, now by a deliberate and hidden
advance; equally willing to strike with the sword or to poison by calumny, as the man
who moved him lusted for the blood or sought to accomplish the dishonour of his victim.
M. de Laubardemont arrived at Loudun during the month of August 1633, and in order to
carry out his mission addressed himself to Sieur Memin de Silly, prefect of the town, that
old friend of the cardinal's whom Mignon and Barre, as we have said, had impressed so
favourably. Memin saw in the arrival of Laubardemont a special intimation that it was the
will of Heaven that the seemingly lost cause of those in whom he took such a warm
interest should ultimately triumph. He presented Mignon and all his friends to M.
Laubardemont, who received them with much cordiality. They talked of the mother