Urbain Grandier HTML version

Chapter 11
The mode of torture employed at Loudun was a variety of the boot, and one of the most
painful of all. Each of the victim's legs below the knee was placed between two boards,
the two pairs were then laid one above the other and bound together firmly at the ends;
wedges were then driven in with a mallet between the two middle boards; four such
wedges constituted ordinary and eight extraordinary torture; and this latter was seldom
inflicted, except on those condemned to death, as almost no one ever survived it, the
sufferer's legs being crushed to a pulp before he left the torturer's bands. In this case M.
de Laubardemont on his own initiative, for it had never been done before, added two
wedges to those of the extraordinary torture, so that instead of eight, ten were to be driven
Nor was this all: the commissioner royal and the two Franciscans undertook to inflict the
torture themselves.
Laubardemont ordered Grandier to be bound in the usual manner, I and then saw his legs
placed between the boards. He then dismissed the executioner and his assistants, and
directed the keeper of the instruments to bring the wedges, which he complained of as
being too small. Unluckily, there were no larger ones in stock, and in spite of threats the
keeper persisted in saying he did not know where to procure others. M. de Laubardemont
then asked how long it would take to make some, and was told two hours; finding that too
long to wait, he was obliged to put up with those he had.
Thereupon the torture began. Pere Lactance having exorcised the instruments, drove in
the first wedge, but could not draw a murmur from Grandier, who was reciting a prayer in
a low voice; a second was driven home, and this time the victim, despite his resolution,
could not avoid interrupting his devotions by two groans, at each of which Pere Lactance
struck harder, crying, "Dicas! dicas!" (Confess, confess!), a word which he repeated so
often and so furiously, till all was over, that he was ever after popularly called "Pere
When the second wedge was in, de Laubardemont showed Grandier his manuscript
against the celibacy of the priests, and asked if he acknowledged it to be in his own
handwriting. Grandier answered in the affirmative. Asked what motive he had in writing
it, he said it was an attempt to restore peace of mind to a poor girl whom he had loved, as
was proved by the two lines written at the end--
Tu mettras en repos ta bonne conscience."
It will give ease to thy tender conscience]