Grandier, Urban

, curate and canon of Loudun in France, famous for his intrigues and tragical end, was the son of a notary royal of Sable, and born at Bouvere near Sable, in the latter part of the fifteenth century, but we know not in what year. He was a man of reading and judgment, and a famous preacher; for which the rnonka of Loudun soon hated him, especially after he had urged the necessity of confessing sins to the parochial priests at Easter. He was a handsome man, of an agreeable conversation, neat in his dress, and cleanly in his person, which made him suspected of loving the fair sex, and of being beloved by them. In 1629, he was accused of having had a criminal conversation with some women in the very church of which he was curate on which the official condemned him to resign all his benefices, and to live in penance. He brought an appeal, this sentence being an encroachment upon the civil power; and, by a decree of the parliament of Paris, he was referred to the presidial of Poitiers, in which he was acquitted. Three years after> some Ursuline nuns of Loudun were thought, by the vulgar, to he possessed with the devil; and Grandier’s enemies, the capuchins of Loudun, charged him with being the author of the possession, that is, with witchcraft. They thought, however, that in order to make the charge succeed according to their wishes, it was very proper to strengthen themselves with the authority of cardinal Richlieu. For this purpose, they wrote to father Joseph, their fellowcapuchin, who had great credit with the cardinal, that Grandier was the author of the piece entitled “La Cordonnierre de Loudun,” or “The Woman Shoemaker of Loudon,‘ r a severe satire upon the cardinal’s person and family. This great minister, among many good qualities, harboured the most bitter resentment against the authors of libels against him; and father Joseph having persuaded him that Grandier was the author of” La Cordonniere de Loudun," he wrote immediately to De Laubardemont, counsellor of state, and his creature, to make a diligent inquiry into the affair of the nuns. De Laubardemont | accordingly arrested Grandier in Dec. 1633; and, after he had thoroughly examined the affair, went to meet the cardinal, and to take proper measures with him. In July 1634, letters patent were drawn up and sealed, to try Grandier; and were directed to De Laubardemont, and to twelve judges chosen out of the courts in the neighbourhood of Loudun; all men of honour indeed, but very credulous, and on that account chosen by Grandier’s enemies. In Aug. 18, upon the evidence of Astaroth, the chief of possessing devils; of Easas, of Celsus, of Acaos, of Eudon, &c. that is to say, upon the evidence of the nuns, who asserted that they were possessed with those devils, the commissaries passed judgment, by which Grandier was declared well and duly attainted, and convicted of the crime of magic, witchcraft, and possession, which by his means happened on the bodies of some Ursuline nuns of Loudun, and of some other lay persons, mentioned in his trial; for which crimes he was sentenced to make the amende honor’ able, and to be burnt alive with the magical covenants and characters which were in the register-office, as also with the ms. written by him against the celibacy of priests; and his ashes to be thrown up into the air. Grandier heard this dreadful sentence without any emotion; and, when he went to the place of execution, suffered his punishment with great firmness and courage, April 18, 1634.

The story of this unhappy person shews how easily an innocent man may be destroyed by the malice of the few, working upon the credulity and superstition of the many: for, Grandier, though certainly a bad man, was as certainly innocent of the crimes for which he suffered. Renaudot, a famous physician, and the first author of the French gazette, wrote Grandier’s eulogium, which was published at Paris in loose sheets. It was taken from Menage, who openly defends the curate of Loudun, and calls the possession of those nuns chimerical. In 1693 was published at AmsterdamHistoire des Diables de Loudun;” from which very curious account it appears, that the pretended possession of the Ursulines was an horrible conspiracy against Grandier’s life. As an author he is known only for a funeral oration for Scaevola de St. Martha, which is said to be an eloquent performafice. 1


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