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Copyright 1910
ByP. F. Collier & Son


Volume I


The Borgias 7

The Cenci - . . . 359

Volume II
Massacres of the South 415

Volume III
Mary Stuart 813

Volume IV

Karl-Ludwig Sand 1133

Urbain Grandier 123 1

NisiDA 1401

Volume V

Derues 1473

La Constantin 1667

Volume VI

Joan of Naples 1785

The Man in the Iron Mask 1957

Martin Guerre 2039

Volume VII

Ali Pacha 2117

Countess de Saint-Geran .,,,,, 23x5

Murat [ 2397

Volume VIII

The Marquise de Brinvilliers 2467

Vaninka * 2583

Marquise de Ganges [ 2679


Dumas — ^Vol. i — i.


DUMAS'S Celebrated Crimes was not written
for children. The novelist has spared no
language — ^has minced no words — to describe
the violent scenes of a violent time.

In some instances facts appear distorted out
of their true perspective, and in others the
author makes unwarranted charges. It is not
within our province to edit the historical
side of Dumas, any more than it would be
to correct th^ obvious errors in Dickens's
Child's History of England, The careful,
mature reader, for whom the books are in-
tended, will recognize, and allow for, this


THE contents of these volumes of Celebrated
Crimes, as well as the motives which led to
their inception, are unique. They are a series of
stories based upon historical records, from the pen
of Alexandre Dumas, pere, when he was not *'the
elder,'- nor yet the author of D'Artagnan or Monte
Cristo, but was a rising young dramatist and a lion
in the literary set and world of fashion.

Dumas, in fact, wrote his Crimes Celebres just
prior to launching upon his w^onderful series of his-
torical novels, and they may therefore be considered
as source books, whence he was to draw so much
of that far-reaching and intimate knowledge of
inner history which has perennially astonished his
readers. The Crimes were published in Paris, in
1839-40, in eight volumes, comprising eighteen
titles — all of which now appear in the present care-
fully translated text. The success of the original
work was instantaneous. Dumas laughingly said
that he thought he had exhausted the subject of
famous crimes, until the work was off the press,
when he immediately became deluged with letters



from every province in France, supplying him with
material upon other deeds of violence! The sub-
jects which he has chosen, however, are of both
historic and dramatic importance, and they have the
added value of giving the modern reader a clear
picture of the state of semi-lawlessness which ex-
isted in Europe, during the middle ages. "The
Borgias, the Cenci, Urbain Grandier, the Marchion-
ess of Brinvilliers, the Marchioness of Ganges, and
the rest — what subjects for the pen of Dumas!"
exclaims Garnett.

Space does not permit us to consider in detail the
material here collected, although each title will be
found to present points of special interest. The
first volume comprises the annals of the Borgias
and the Cenci. The name of the noted and no-
torious Florentine family has become a synonym
for intrigue and violence, and yet the Borgias have
not been without stanch defenders in history.

Another famous Italian story is that of the Cenci.
The beautiful Beatrice Cenci — celebrated in the
painting of Guido, the sixteenth century romance of
Guerrazi, and the poetic tragedy of Shelley, not to
mention numerous succeeding works inspired by
her hapless fate — will always remain a shadowy
figure and one of infinite pathos.

The second volume chronicles the sanguinary
deeds in the south of France, carried on in the name



of religion, but drenching in blood the fair country
round about Avignon, for a long period of years.

The third volume is devoted to the story of
Mary Queen of Scots, another woman who suf-
fered a violent death, and around whose name an
endless controversy has waged. Dumas goes care-
fully into the dubious episodes of her stormy ca-
reer, but does not allow these to blind his sympathy
for her fate. Mary, it should be remembered, was
closely allied to France by education and marriage,
and the French never forgave Elizabeth the part
she played in the tragedy.

The fourth volume comprises three widely dis-
similar tales. One of the strangest stories is that
of Urbain Grandier, the innocent victim of a cun-
ning and relentless religious plot. His story was
dramatised by Dumas, in 1850. A famous German
crime is that of Karl-Ludwig Sand, whose murder
of Kotzebue, Councillor of the Russian Legation,
caused an international upheaval which was not to
subside for many years.

An especially interesting volume is number six,
containing, among other material, the famous
" Man in the Iron Mask." This unsolved puzzle
of history was later incorporated by Dumas in one
of the D'Artagnan Romances — a section of the
Vicomte de Bragelonne, to which it gave its name.
But in this later form, the true story of this sin-



gular man doomed to wear an iron vizor over his
features during his entire Hfetime could only be
treated episodically. While as a special subject in
the Crimes, Dumas indulges his curiosity, and
that of his reader, to the full. Hugo's unfinished
tragedy, Les Jumeaux, is on the same subject;
as also are others by Fournier, in French, and
Zschokke, in German.

Other stories can be given only passing mention.
The beautiful poisoner, Marquise de Brinvilliers,
must have suggested to Dumas his later portrait of
Miladi, in the Three Musketeers, the most cele-
brated of his woman characters. The incredible
cruelties of Ali Pacha, the Turkish despot, should
not be charged entirely to Dumas, as he is said to
have been largely aided in this by one of his
" ghosts," Mallefille.

" Not a mere artist " — writes M. de Villemessant,
founder of the Figaro, — '^ he has nevertheless been
able to seize on those dramatic effects which have
so much distinguished his theatrical career, and to
give those sharp and distinct reproductions of char-
acter which alone can present to the reader the mind
and spirit of an age. Not a mere historian, he has
nevertheless carefully consulted the original sources
of information, has weighed testimonies, elicited
theories, and . . . has interpolated the poetry of
history with its most thorough prose."




ON the 8th of April, 1492, in a bedroom of the
Cameg'gi Palace, about three miles from
Florence, were three men grouped about a bed
whereon a fourth lay dying.

The first of these three men, sitting at the foot
of the bed, and half hidden, that he might conceal
his tears, in the gold-brocaded curtains, was
Ermolao Barbaro, author of the treatise On Celibacy,
and of Studies in Pliny : the year before, when he
was at Rome in the capacity of ambassador of the
Florentine Republic, he had been appointed Patriarch
of Aquileia by Innocent viii.

The second, who was kneeling and holding one
hand of the dying man between his own, was Angelo
Poliziano, the Catullus of the fifteenth century, a
classic of the lighter sort, who in his Latin verses
might have been mistaken for a poet of the
Augustan age.

The third, who was standing up and leaning
against one of the twisted columns of the bed-head,
following with profound sadness the progress of the
malady which he read in the face of his departing
friend, was the famous Pico della Mirandola, who



at the age of twenty could speak twenty-two lan-
guages, and who had offered to reply in each of
these languages to any seven hundred questions
that might be put to him by the twenty most learned
men in the whole world, if they could be assembled
at Florence.

The man on the bed was Lorenzo the Magnificent,
who at the beginning of the year had been attacked
by a severe and deep-seated fever, to which was
added the gout, a hereditary ailment in his family.
He had found at last that the draughts containing
dissolved pearls which the quack doctor, Leoni di
Spoleto, prescribed for him (as if he desired to
adapt his remedies rather to the riches of his patient
than to his necessities) were useless and unavailing,
and so he had come to understand that he must part
from those gentle-tongued women of his, those
sweet-voiced poets, his palaces and their rich hang-
ings ; therefore he had summoned to give him abso-
lution for his sins — in a man of less high place they
might perhaps have been called crimes — the Domini-
can, Girolamo Francesco Savonarola.

It was not, however, without an inward fear,
against which the praises of his friends availed noth-
ing, that the pleasure-seeker and usurper awaited
that severe and gloomy preacher by whose words
all Florence was stirred, and on whose pardon hence-
forth depended all his hope for another world.



Indeed, Savonarola was one of those men of stone,
coming, like the statue of the Commandante, to
knock at the door of a Don Giovanni, and in the
midst of feast and orgy to announce that it is even
now the moment to begin to think of Heaven. He
had been born at Ferrara, whither his family, one
of the most illustrious of Padua, had been called by
Niccolo, Marchese d'Este, and at the age of twenty-
three, summoned by an irresistible vocation, had fled
from his father's house, and had taken the vows
in the cloister of Dominican monks at Florence.
There, where he was appointed by his superiors to
give lessons in philosophy, the young novice had
from the first to battle against the defects of a voice
that was both harsh and weak, a defective pronuncia-
tion, and above all, the depression of his physical
powers, exhausted as they were by too severe

Savonarola from that time condemned himself to
the most absolute seclusion, and disappeared in the
depths of his convent, as if the slab of his tomb had
already fallen over him. There, kneeling on the
flags, praying unceasingly before a wooden crucifix,
fevered by vigils and penances, he soon passed out
of contemplation into ecstasy, and began to feel in
himself that inward prophetic impulse which sum-
moned him to preach the reformation of the Church.

Nevertheless, the reformation of Savonarola, more


reverential than Luther's, which followed about five-
and-twenty years later, respected the thing while
attacking- the man, and had as its aim the altering of
teaching that was human, not faith that was of God.
He did not work, like the German monk, by reason-
ing, but by enthusiasm. With him logic always gave
way before inspiration : he was not a theologian, but
a prophet. Yet, although hitherto he had bowed his
head before the authority of the Church, he had
already raised it against the temporal power. To
him religion and liberty appeared as two virgins
equally sacred ; so that, in his view, Lorenzo in sub-
jugating the one was as culpable as Pope Innocent
VIII in dishonouring the other. The result of this
was that, so long as Lorenzo lived in riches, happi-
ness, and magnificence, Savonarola had never been
willing, whatever entreaties were made, to sanction
by his presence a power which he considered illegiti-
mate. But Lorenzo on his deathbed sent for him,
and that was another matter. The austere preacher
set forth at once, bareheaded and barefoot, hoping to
save not only the soul of the dying man but also the
liberty of the republic.

Lorenzo, as we have said, was awaiting the arrival
of Savonarola with an impatience mixed with un-
easiness; so that, when he heard the sound of his
steps, his pale face took a yet more deathlike tinge,
while at the same time he raised himself on his



elbow and ordered his three friends to go away.
They obeyed at once, and scarcely had they left by
one door than the curtain of the other was raised,
and the monk, pale, immovable, solemn, appeared on
the threshold. When he perceived him, Lorenzo dei
Medici, reading in his marble brow the inflexibility
of a statue, fell back on his bed, breathing a sigh so
profound that one might have supposed it was his

The monk glanced round the room as though to
assure himself that he was really alone with the
dying man; then he advanced with a slow and
solemn step towards the bed. Lorenzo watched his
approach with terror ; then, when he was close beside
him, he cried —

" O my father, I have been a very great sinner ! "

" The mercy of God is infinite," replied the monk;
" and I come into your presence laden with the
divine mercy."

" You believe, then, that God will forgive my
sins ? " cried the dying man, renewing his hope as he
heard from the lips of the monk such unexpected

" Your sins and also your crimes, God will forgive
them all," replied Savonarola. " God will forgive
your vanities, your adulterous pleasures, your ob-
scene festivals; so much for your sins. God will
forgive you for promising two thousand florins re-
ward to the man who should bring you the head of



Dietisalvi, Nerone Nigi, Angelo Antinori, Niccolo
Soderini, and twice the money if they were handed
over alive ; God will forgive you for dooming to the
scaffold or the gibbet the son of Papi Orlandi,
Francesco di Brisighella, Bernardo Nardi, Jacopo
Frescobaldi, Amoretto Baldovinetti, Pietro Bal-
ducci, Bernardo di Bandino, Francesco Frescobaldi,
and more than three hundred others whose names
were none the less dear to Florence because they
were less renowned ; so much for your crimes." And
at each of these names which Savonarola pronounced
slowly, his eyes fixed on the dying man, he replied
with a groan which proved the monk's memory to
be only too true. Then at last, when he had finished,
Lorenzo asked in a doubtful tone —

" Then do you believe, my father, that God will
forgive me everything, both my sins and my
crimes ? '*

" Everything," said Savonarola, " but on three

" What are they? " asked the dying man.

" The first," said Savonarola, " is that you feel a
complete faith in the power and the mercy of God."

" My father," replied Lorenzo eagerly, " I feel this
faith in the very depths of my heart."

'' The second," said Savonarola, " is that you give
back the property of others which you have un-
justly confiscated and kept."



" My father, shall I have time ? " asked the dying

" God will give it to you," replied the monk.

Lorenzo shut his eyes, as though to reflect more at
his ease ; then, after a moment's silence, he replied —

" Yes, my father, I will do it."

" The third," resumed Savonarola, " is that you
restore to the republic her ancient independence and
her former liberty."

Lorenzo sat up on his bed, shaken by a convulsive
movement, and questioned with his eyes the eyes
of the Dominican, as though he would find out if he
had deceived himself and not heard aright.
Savonarola repeated the same words.

" Never ! never ! " exclaimed Lorenzo, falling back
on his bed and shaking his head, — " never ! "

The monk, without replying a single word, made
a step to withdraw.

" My father, my father," said the dying man, " do
not leave me thus: have pity on me ! "

" Have pity on Florence," said the monk.

" But, my father," cried Lorenzo, " Florence is
free, Florence is happy."

" Florence is a slave, Florence is poor," cried
Savonarola, " poor in genius, poor in money, and
poor in courage; poor in genius, because after you,
Lorenzo, will come your son Piero ; poor in money,
because from the funds of the republic you have



kept up the magnificence of your family and the
credit of your business houses ; poor in courage, be-
cause you have robbed the rightful magistrates of
the authority which was constitutionally theirs, and
diverted the citizens from the double path of military
and civil life, wherein, before they were enervated
by your luxuries, they had displayed the virtues of
the ancients ; and therefore, when the day shall dawn
which is not far distant," continued the monk, his
eyes fixed and glowing as if he were reading in the
future, " whereon the barbarians shall descend from
the mountains, the walls of our towns, like those of
Jericho, shall fall at the blast of their trumpets."

" And do you desire that I should yield up on my
deathbed the power that has made the glory of my
whole Hfe? " cried Lorenzo dei Medici.

" It is not I who desire it ; it is the Lord," replied
Savonarola coldly.

" Impossible, impossible ! " murmured Lorenzo.

" Very well ; then die as you have lived ! " cried
the monk, " in the midst of your courtiers and flat-
terers; let them ruin your soul as they have ruined
your body ! " And at these words, the austere Do-
minican, without listening to the cries of the dying
man, left the room as he had entered it, with face and
step unaltered ; far above human things he seemed to
soar, a spirit already detached from the earth.

At the cry which broke from Lorenzo dei Medici


when he saw him disappear, Ermolao, Poliziano, and
Pico della Mirandola, who had heard all, returned
into the room, and found their friend convulsively
clutching in his arms a magnificent crucifix which
he had just taken down from the bed-head. In vain
did they try to reassure him with friendly words.
Lorenzo the Magnificent only replied with sobs ; and
one hour after the scene which we have just related,
his lips clinging to the feet of the Christ, he breathed
his last in the arms of these three men, of whom
the most fortunate^ — though all three were young —
was not destined to survive him more than two
years. " Since his death was to bring about many
calamities," says Niccolo Macchiavelli, " it was the
will of Heaven to show this by omens only too
certain: the dome of the church of Santa Reparata
was struck by lightning, and Roderigo Borgia was
elected pope.



TOWARDS the end of the fifteenth century
— that is to say, at the epoch when our his-
tory opens — ^the Piazza of St. Peter's at Rome was
far from presenting so noble an aspect as that which
is offered in our own day to anyone who approaches
it by the Piazza dei Rusticucci.

In fact, the Basilica of Constantine existed no
longer, while that of Michael Angelo, the master-
piece of thirty popes, which cost the labour of three
centuries and the expense of two hundred and sixty
millions, existed not yet. The ancient edifice, which
had lasted for eleven hundred and forty-five years,
had been threatening to fall in about 1440, and
Nicholas v^ artistic forerunner of Julius 11 and Leo
x, had had it pulled down, together with the temple
of Probus Anicius which adjoined it. In their place
he had had the foundations of a new temple laid by
the architects Rossellini and Battista Alberti; but
some years later, after the death of Nicholas v,
Paul II, the Venetian, had not been able to give
more than five thousand crowns to continue the pro-
ject of his predecessor, and thus the building was



arrested when it had scarcely risen above the ground,
and presented the appearance of a still-born edifice,
even sadder than that of a ruin.

As to the piazza itself, it had not yet, as the reader
will understand from the foregoing explanation,
either the fine colonnade of Bernini, or the dancing
fountains, or that Egyptian obelisk which, according
to Pliny, was set up by the Pharaoh at Heliopolis,
and transferred to Rome by Caligula, who set it up in
Nero's Circus, where it remained till 1586. Now, as
Nero's Circus was situated on the very ground where
St. Peter's now stands, and the base of this obelisk
covered the actual site where the vestry now is, it
looked like a gigantic needle shooting up from the
middle of truncated columns, walls of unequal
height, and half-carved stones.

On the right of this building, a ruin from its
cradle, arose the Vatican, a splendid Tower of Babel,
to which all- the celebrated architects of the Roman
school contributed their work for a thousand years :
at this epoch the two magnificent chapels did not
exist, nor the twelve great halls, the two-and-twenty
courts, the thirty staircases, and the two thousand
bedchambers ; for Pope Sixtus v, the sublime swine-
herd, who did so many things in a five years' reign,
had not yet been able to add the immense building
which on the eastern side towers above the court of
St. Damasius; still, it was truly the old sacred edifice,



with its venerable associations, in which Charle-
magne received hospitality when he was crowned
emperor by Pope Leo iii.

All the same, on the 9th of August, 1492, the
whole of Rome, from the People's Gate to the Coli-
seum and from the Baths of Diocletian to the castle
of Sant' Angelo, seemed to have made an appoint-
ment on this piazza : the multitude thronging it was
so great as to overflow into all the neighbouring
streets, which started from this centre like the rays
of a star. The crowds of people, looking like a
motley moving carpet, were climbing up into the
basilica, grouping themselves upon the stones, hang-
ing on the columns, standing up against the walls;
they entered by the doors of houses and reappeared
at the windows, so numerous and so densely packed
that one might have said each window was walled
up with heads. Now all this multitude had its eyes
fixed on one single point in the Vatican ; for in the
Vatican was the Conclave, and as Innocent viii had
been dead for sixteen days, the Conclave was in
the act of electing a pope.

Rome is the town of elections : since her foundation
down to our own day — that is to say, in the course
of nearly twenty-six centuries — she has constantly
elected her kings, consuls, tribunes, emperors, and
popes: thus Rome during the days of Conclave ap-
pears to be attacked by a strange fever which drives



everyone to the Vatican or to Monte Cavallo, accord-
ing as the scarlet-robed assembly is held in one or the
other of these two palaces : it is, in fact, because the
raising- up of a new pontiff is a great event for every-
body ; for, according to the average established in the
period between St. Peter and Gregory xvi, every
pope lasts about eight years, and these eight years,
according to the character of the man who is elected,
are a period either of tranquillity or of disorder, of
justice or of venality, of peace or of war.

Never perhaps since the day when the first succes-
sor of St. Peter took his seat on the pontifical throne
until the interregnum which now occurred, had so
great an agitation been shown as there was at this
moment, when, as we have shown, all these people
were thronging on the Piazza of St. Peter and in
the streets which led to it. It is true that this was
not without reason; for Innocent viii — who was
called the father of his people because he had added
to his subjects eight sons and the same number of
daughters — had, as we have said, after living a life
of self-indulgence, just died, after a death-struggle
during which, if the journal of Stefano Infessura
may be believed, two hundred and twenty murders
were committed in the streets of Rome. The author-
ity had then devolved in the customary way upon
the Cardinal Camerlengo, who during the interreg-
num had sovereign powers; but as he had been



obliged to fulfil all the duties of his office — that is,
to get money coined in his name and bearing his
arms, to take the fisherman's ring from the finger of
the dead pope, to dress, shave and paint him, to
have the corpse embalmed, to lower the coffin after
nine days' obsequies into the provisional niche where
the last deceased pope has to remain until his suc-
cessor comes to take his place and consign him to his
final tomb; lastly, as he had been obliged to wall up
the door of the Conclave and the window of the
balcony from which the pontifical election is pro-
claimed, he had not had a single moment for busying
himself with the police; so that the assassinations
had continued in goodly fashion, and there were
loud cries for an energetic hand which should make
all these swords and all these daggers retire into
their sheaths.

Now the eyes of this multitude were fixed, as we
have said, upon the Vatican, and particularly upon
one chimney, from which would come the first signal,
when suddenly, at the moment of the Ave Maria —
that is to say, at the hour when the day begins to
decline — great cries went up from all the crowd

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