Adrets, François De Beaumont, Baron Des

, of an ancient family in Dauphiny, and a bold and enterprising spirit, was born in 1513. After having served in the army with great distinction, he espoused the cause of the Huguenots from resentment to the duke of Guise in 1562. He took Valence, Vienne, Grenoble, and Lyons, but signalized himself less by his prowess and his activity than by his atrocious acts of vengeance. The Catholic writers say, that in regard to persons of their communion he was what Nero had been of old to the primitive Christians. He put his invention to the rack to find out the most fantastic punishments, and enjoyed the barbarous satisfaction of inflicting them on all that fell into his hands. At Montbrison and at Mornas, the soldiers that were made prisoners were obliged to throw themselves from the battlements upon the pikes of his people. Having reproached one of these wretches with having retreated twice from the leap without daring to take it: “Mons. le baron,” said the soldier, “with all your bravery, I defy you to take it in three.” The composed humour of the man saved his life. His conduct was far from being approved even by the most violent of Ins party; admiral Coligny and the prince of Conde were so shocked at his cruelties, that the government of Lyons was taken from him; and piqued at this, Des Adrets was upon the point of turning Catholic; but he was seized at Romans, and would have been brought to | the scaffold, if the peace, just then concluded, had not saved him. He afterwards put his design in execution, and died despised and detested by both parties, Feb. 2, 1587. He left two sons and a daughter, who had no issue, gome time before his death, Des Adrets, being at Grenoble, where the duke de Mayenne then was, he wanted to revenge the affronts and threats that Pardaillan had given him on account of the murder of his father. He repeated several times, that he had quitted his solitude to convince all such as might complain of him, that his sword was not grown so rusty but that it could always right him. Pardaillan did not think himself obliged to take any notice of this bravado of a swordsman then in his 74th year: and Des Adrets went back again content with his rhodomontade. The ambassador of Savoy once meeting him on the high road alone, with only a stick in his hand, was surprised at seeing an old man, notorious for his barbarous executions, walking without a companion and quite defenceless, and asked him of his welfare. “I have nothing to say to you,” answered Des Adrets coldly, “unless it be to desire you to acquaint your master, that you met the baron des Adrets, his very humble servant, on the high road, with a white stick in his hand and without a sword, and that nobody said any thing to him.” One of the sons of the baron des Adrets was engaged in the massacre of St. Bartholomew. He had been page to the king, who ordered him one day to go and call his chancellor. The magistrate, who was then at table, having answered him, that as soon as he had dined he would go and receive the commands of his majesty “What!” said the page, “dare you delay a moment when the king commands Rise, and instantly be gone” Whereupon he took hold of the table-cloth by one corner, and drew the whole of the dinner down upon the floor. M. de la Place relates this anecdote (rather improbable it must be confessed) in his “Pieces interessantes,” torn. IV; and adds, that the story being told to Charles IX. by the chancellor, the monarch only laughed, and said “that the son would be as violent as the father.” To this day the name of Adrets is never pronounced in Dauphiny without horror. Such the story usually reported of this extraordinary character; but it is said that Maimbourg, Brantome, Moreri, and Daniel have given some exaggerated accounts of his cruelties. Thnanus has | justified him from some of the accusations, and particularly in affair of Mornas, where he was not present. 1


Gen. Dict. in art. Beaumont.—Biographie Universelle.—His life by Allard, 1675, 12mo, and by J. C. Martin, 1803, 8vo.