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D'Agut townhouse, echo of gory massacres

The townhouse | JM Campaner / CC-BY-SA
Massacre Trial Legend Town house Baron d’Oppède D'Agut townhouse

A house on the place des Prêcheurs

Raised in 1765 for Honoré d’Agut, councillor in Aix Parliament, this city house is located on the place des Prêcheurs.

On the façade, look at that: 2 caryatids but also 2 virgins (replaced in 1820 because the former ones were destroyed during the Revolution).

But another owner let here a tragic memory: Guillaume Guérin. Do you know him?

Guérin and Cabrières and Mérindol case

He was general lawyer in Aix Parliament and he was compromised in the Cabrières and Mérindol case.

For that, he was put in jail in Paris in June 1553 then hung the next year... What happened?

The Waldensians

Well, the story began during wars of Religion, with a kind of Protestants, called the Waldensians: aah, this bloody church which frightened the Catholics, who considered them as heretics, as the "Luther's sect"...

And yet, Waldensians lived in Provence and Dauphiné since ages! They peacefully cultivated their lands, without hurting a fly: "pure as Alps herb", said French historian Michelet!

But Aix Parliament thought they were heretics, and they signed an edict which condemned 19 notables of Mérindol village (Vaucluse) to the stake: we were on November 18th 1540...

A slaughter

For 5 years, the edict wasn’t applied. It only said that Waldensians would be spared if they changed religion.

Then, 5 years later, the peace was broken: old president in Aix Parliament, Chassanée, was replaced by the boorish Jean Maynier d’Oppède.

This one bore an old grudge against Waldensians! And he was very violent... Without further ado, with king François I’s consent, he galloped to the village of Mérindol, with his lawyer Guérin: captain Paulin de La Garde, with his army, joined them. With an incredible fury, they burnt the village, slaughtered the Waldensians...

They killed 3 000 people, tortured men, sold them as slaves, raped women, plundered and destroyed everything... In 10 days, soldiers also besieged the neighbour cities, like Cabrières village: 22 villages were ravaged!

A bloody head

Parliament of Paris apprised of the case in 1551. Oppède, with a surefire defence, was not guilty: oh, but this chap had lots of supports... Guérin, alone in middle of that hostile justice, was accused of every possible crimes!

OK, he wasn’t completely innocent, but he paid for others, Oppède first... But the strangest thing was that he was condemned for something else: embezzlement, slander and false-money...

Gallows waited for him. Hung on place des Halles in Paris, they brought his head back in Aix, to display it in front of his house.

The legend says Guérin’s wife, who wanted to know the trial’s outcome, visited a kind of seer, few days before Guillaume’s execution. He said: "Oh, you’ll see your husband again!"

Indeed, a bloody mark, let by Guillaume's chopped off head, appeared on the spouse’s hand while the execution took place...

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!