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Ambroise Paré and his times, 1510-1590 online

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into it ; and it must be kept secret, for fear the enemy

50 Ambroise Pare

should come to hear of it ; and each promised not to
speak of it to any man. Now there was a groom
of the King's chamber, who being laid under the
King's camp-bed to sleep, heard they were resolved
to attack the town next day. So he told the
secret to a certain captain, saying that they would
make the attack next day for certain, and he
had heard it from the King, and prayed the said
captain to speak of it to no man, which he prom-
ised ; but his promise did not hold, and forthwith
he disclosed it to a captain, and this captain to a
captain, and the captains to some of the soldiers,
saying always, " Say nothing." And it was just so
much hid, that next day early in the morning there
was seen the greater part of the soldiers with their
boots and breeches cut loose at the knee for the
better mounting of the breach. The King was told
of this rumour that ran through the camp, that the
attack was to be made ; whereat he was astonished,
seeing there were but three in that advice, who
had promised each other to tell it to no man. The
King sent for M. de Guise, to know if he had spoken
of this attack ; he swore and afifirmed to him he had
not told it to anybody ; and M. the Constable said
the same, and told the King they must know for
certain who had declared this secret counsel, seeing
they were but three. Inquiry was made from cap-

"Journeys in Diverse Places" 51

tain to captain. In the end they found the truth ;
for one said, " It was such an one told me," and
another said the same, till it came to the first of all,
who declared he had heard it from the groom of the
King's chamber, called Guyard, a native of Blois,
son of a barber of the late King Francis. The King
sent for him into his tent, in the presence of MM. de
Guise and the Constable, to hear from him whence
he had his knowledge, and who had told him the
attack was to be made ; and said if he did not speak
the truth he would have him hanged. Then he de-
clared he lay down under the King's bed thinking
to sleep, and so having heard the plan he revealed
it to a captain who was a friend of his, to the end
he might prepare himself with his soldiers to be the
first at the attack. Then the King knew the truth,
and told him he should never serve him again, and
that he deserved to be hanged, and forbade him
ever to come again to the Court.*

The groom of the chamber went away with this
to swallow, and slept that night with a surgeon-
in-ordinary of the King, Master Louis of Saint
Andre ; and in the night he gave himself six stabs
with a knife, and cut his throat. Nor did the
surgeon perceive it till the morning, when he found
his bed all bloody, and the dead body by him.
* Que c'est de reveler les secrets des Princes. — A. P.

52 Ambroise Pare

He marvelled at this sight on his awaking, and
feared they would say he was the cause of the mur-
der ; but he was soon relieved, seeing the reason,
which was despair at the loss of the good friendship
of the King.

So Guyard was buried. And those of Danvil-
liers, when they saw the breach large enough for
us to enter, and our soldiers ready to assault them,
surrendered themselves to the mercy of the King.
Their leaders were taken prisoners, and their soldiers
were sent away without arms.

The camp being dispersed, I returned to Paris with
my gentleman whose leg I had cut off ; I dressed him,
and God healed him. I sent him to his house merry
with a wooden leg ; and he was content, saying he
had got off cheap, not to have been miserably
burned to stop the blood, as you write in your
book, mon petit maistre.

The Journey to Chateau le Comte. 1552.

Some time after, King Henry raised an army of
thirty thousand men, to go and lay waste the coun-
try about Hesdin. The King of Navarre, who was
then called M. de Vendosme, was chief of the army,
and the King's Lieutenant. Being at St. Denis, in
France, waiting while the companies passed by, he
sent to Paris for me to speak with him. When I

"Journeys in Diverse Places" 53

came he begged me (and his request was a com-
mand) to follow him on this journey ; and I, wish-
ing to make my excuses, saying my wife was sick
in bed, he made answer there were physicians in Paris
to cure her, and he, too, had left his wife, who was
of as good a house as mine, and he said he would use
me well, and forthwith ordered I should be attached
to his household. Seeing this great desire he had
to take me with him, I dared not refuse him.

I went after him to Chateau le Comte, within
three or four leagues of Hesdin. The Emperor's
soldiers were in garrison there, with a number of
peasants from the country round. M. de Ven-
dosme called on them to surrender ; they made answer
that he should never take them, unless it were piece-
meal ; let him do his worst, and they would do their
best to defend themselves. They trusted in their
moats, which were full of water ; but in two hours,
with plenty of faggots and casks, we made a way for
our infantry to pass over, when they had to advance
to the assault ; and the place was attacked with five
cannons, and a breach was made large enough for
our men to enter ; where those within received the
attack very valiantly, and killed and wounded a
great number of our men with arquebuses, pikes,
and stones. In the end, when they saw themselves
overpowered, they set fire to their powder and ammu-

54 Ambroise Pare

nition, whereby many of our men were burned, and
some of their own. And they were almost all put
to the sword ; but some of our soldiers had taken
twenty or thirty, hoping to have ransom for them :
and so soon as this was known, orders were given to
proclaim by trumpet through the camp, that all sol-
diers who had Spaniards for prisoners must kill them,
on pain of being themselves hanged and strangled :
which was done in cold blood.

Thence we went and burned several villages;
and the barns were all full of grain, to my very great
regret. We came as far as Tournahan, where there
was a large tower, whither the enemy withdrew, but
we found the place empty : our men sacked it, and
blew up the tower with a mine of gunpowder, which
turned it upside down. After that, the camp was
dispersed, and I returned to Paris. And the day
after Chateau le Comte was taken, M. de Vendosme
sent a gentleman under orders to the King, to
report to him all that had happened, and among
other things he told the King I had done very
good work dressing the wounded, and had showed
him eighteen bullets that I had taken out of their
bodies, and there were many more that I had not
been able to find or take out ; and he spoke more
good of me than there was by half. Then the
King said he would take me into his service, and

"Journeys in Diverse Places" 55

commanded M. de Goguier, his first physician, to
write me down in the King's service as one of his
surgeons-in-ordinary, and I was to meet him at
Rheims within ten or twelve days : which I did.
And the King did me the honour to command me
to live near him, and he would be a good friend to
me. Then I thanked him most humbly for the hon-
our he was pleased to do me, in appointing me to
serve him.

The Journey TO Metz. 1552.

The Emperor having besieged Metz with more
than an hundred and twenty thousand men, and
in the hardest time of winter, — it is still fresh in
the minds of all — and there were five or six thousand
men in the town, and among them seven princes ;
MM. le Due de Guise, the King's Lieutenant, d'Eng-
hien, de Cond6, de la Montpensier, de la Roche-
sur-Yon, de Nemours, and many other gentlemen,
with a number of veteran captains and officers : who
often sallied out against the enemy (as I shall tell
hereafter), not without heavy loss on both sides.
Our wounded died almost all, and it was thought the
drugs wherewith they were dressed had been pois-
oned. Wherefore M. de Guise, and MM. the princes,
went so far as to beg the King that if it were possible
I should be sent to them with a supply of drugs, and

56 Ambroise Par^

they believed their drugs were poisoned, seeing that
few of their wounded escaped. My belief is that
there was no poison ; but the severe cutlass and ar-
quebus wounds, and the extreme cold, were the
cause why so many died. The King wrote to M.
the Marshal de Saint Andre, who was his Lieuten-
ant at Verdun, to find means to get me into Metz,
whatever way was possible. MM. the Marshal
de Saint Andr6, and the Marshal de Vielleville,
won over an Italian captain, who promised to get
me into the place, which he did (and for this he
had fifteen hundred crowns). The King having
heard the promise that the Italian captain had
made, sent for me, and commanded me to take
of his apothecary, named Daigne, so many and such
drugs as I should think necessary for the wounded
within the town ; which I did, as much as a post-
horse could carry. The King gave me messages to
M. de Guise, and to the princes and the captains
that were in Metz.

When I came to Verdun, some days after, M. the
Marshal de Saint Andre got horses for me and for
my man, and for the Italian captain, who spoke ex-
cellent German, Spanish, and Walloon, beside his
own mother-tongue. When we were within eight or
ten leagues of Metz, we began to go by night only ;
and when we came near the enemy's camp I saw, more

"Journeys in Diverse Places" 57

than a league and a half off, fires lighted all round the
town, as if the whole earth were burning ; and I be-
lieved we could never pass through these fires with-
out being discovered, and therefore hanged and
strangled, or cut in pieces, or made to pay a great
ransom. To speak truth, I could well and gladly
have wished myself back in Paris, for the great dan-
ger that I foresaw. God guided our business so well,
that we entered into the town at midnight, thanks to
a signal the captain had with another captain of the
company of M. de Guise ; to whom I went, and found
him in bed, and he received me with high favour, be-
ing right glad at my coming.

I gave him my message as the King had com-
manded me, and told him I had a little letter for
him, and the next day I would not fail to deliver it.
Then he ordered me a good lodging, and that I should
be well treated, and said I must not fail next morning
to be upon the breach, where I should find all the
princes and seigneurs, and many captains. Which
I did, and they received me with great joy, and did
me the honour to embrace me, and tell me I was
welcome ; adding they would no more be afraid of
dying, if they should happen to be wounded.

M. le Prince de la Roche-sur-Yon was the first
who entertained me, and inquired what they were
saying at the Court concerning the town of Metz.

58 Ambroise Par6

I told him all that I chose to tell. Forthwith he
begged me to go and see one of his gentlemen named
M. de Magnane, now Chevalier of the Order of the
King, and Lieutenant of His Majesty's Guards, who
had his leg broken by a cannon-shot. I found him
in bed, his leg bent and crooked, without any dress-
ing on it, because a gentleman promised to cure him,
having his name and his girdle, with certain words
(and the poor patient was weeping and crying out
with pain, not sleeping day or night for four days
past). Then I laughed at such cheating and false
promises ; and I reduced and dressed his leg so skil-
fully that he was without pain, and slept all the night,
and afterward, thanks be to God, he was healed, and
is still living now, in the King's service. The Prince
de la Roche-sur-Yon sent me a cask of wine, bigger
than a pipe of Anjou, to my lodging, and told me
when it was drunk, he would send me another ; that
was how he treated me, most generously.

After this, M. de Guise gave me a list of certain
captains and seigneurs, and bade me tell them what
the King had charged me to say ; which I did, and
this was to commend him to them, and give them
his thanks for the duty they had done and were do-
ing in holding his town of Metz, and that he would
remember it. I was more than eight days acquitting
myself of this charge, because they were many.

"Journeys in Diverse Places" 59

First, to all the princes ; then to others, as the Duke
Horace, the Count de Martigues, and his brother
M. de Baug^, the Seigneurs de Montmorency and
d'Anville, now Marshal of France, M. de la Chapelle
aux Ursins, Bonnivet, Carouge, now Governor of
Rouen, the Vidasme de Chartres, the Count de Lude,
M. de Biron, now Marshal of France, M. de Randan,
la Rochefoucaut, Bordaille, d' Estr^s the younger, M.
de Saint Jehan en Dauphin^, and many others whom
it would take too long to name ; and also to many
captains, who had all done their duty well for the
defence of their lives and of the town. Afterward
I asked M. de Guise what it pleased him I should do
with the drugs I had brought with me ; he bade me
distribute them to the surgeons and apothecaries,
and principally to the poor wounded soldiers, who
were in great numbers in the Hospital. Which
I did, and can truly say I could not so much as go
and see all the wounded, who kept sending for me
to visit and dress them.

All the seigneurs within the town asked me to give
special care, above all the rest, to M. de Pienne, who
had been wounded, while on the breach, by a stone
shot from a cannon, on the temple, with fracture and
depression of the bone. They told me that so soon
as he received the blow, he fell to the ground as dead,
and cast forth blood by the mouth, nose, and ears,

6o Ambroise Pare

with great vomiting, and was fourteen days without
being able to speak or reason ; also he had tremors
of a spasmodic nature, and all his face was swelled
and livid. He was trepanned at the side of the tem-
poral muscle, over the frontal bone. I dressed him,
with other surgeons, and God healed him ; and to-
day he is still living, thank God.

The Emperor attacked the town with forty double
cannons, and the powder was not spared day or night.
So soon as M. de Guise saw the artillery set and
pointed to make a breach, he had the nearest houses
pulled down and made into ramparts, and the beams
and joists were put end to end, and between them
faggots, earth, beds, and wool-packs ; then they put
above them other beams and joists as before. And
there was plenty of wood from the houses in the

suburbs; which had 1 en razed to the ground, for

fear the enemy should get under cover of them, and
make use of the wood ; it did very well for repair-
ing the breach. Everybody was hard at work carry-
ing earth to repair it, day and night ; MM. the princes,
the seigneurs, and captains, lieutenants, ensigns, were
all carrying the basket, to set an example to the sol-
diers and citizens to do the like, which they did ;
even the ladies and girls, and those who had not bas-
kets, made use of cauldrons, panniers, sacks, sheets,
and all such things to carry the earth ; so that the



"Journeys in Diverse Places" 6i

enemy had no sooner broken down the wall than
they found behind it a yet stronger rampart. The
wall having fallen, our men cried out at those out-
side, "Fox, fox, fox," and they vented a thousand
insults against one another. M. de Guise forbade
any man on pain of death to speak with those
outside, for fear there should be some traitor who
would betray what was being done within the town.
After this order, our men tied live cats to the ends
of their pikes, and put them over the wall and cried
with the cats, " Miaut, Miaut."

Truly the Imperials were much enraged, having
been so long making a breach, at great loss, which
was eighty paces wide, that fifty men of their front
rank should enter in, only to find a rampart stronger
than the wall. They threw themselves upon the
poor cats, and shot them with arquebuses as men
shoot at the popinjay.

Our men often ran out upon them, by order of M.
de Guise; a few days ago, our men had all made
haste to enrol themselves in sallying-parties, chiefly
the young nobihty, led by experienced captains ; and
indeed it was doing them a great favour to let them
issue from the town and run upon the enemy. They
went forth always an hundred or six score men, well
armed with cutlasses, arquebuses, pistols, pikes, par-
tisans, and halbards ; and advanced as far as the

62 Ambroise Pare

trenches, to take the enemy unawares. Then an
alarum would be sounded all through the enemy's
camp, and their drums would beat plan, plan, ta tita,
ta ta ti ta, tou touf touf. Likewise their trumpets
and clarions rang and sounded, To saddle, to sad-
dle, to saddle, to horse, to horse, to horse, to
saddle, to horse, to horse. And all their soldiers
cried, " Arm, arm, ai'm / to arms, to arms, to arms !
arm, to arms, arm, to arms, arm " .• — like the hue-and-
cry after wolves ; and all diverse tongues, accord-
ing to their nations ; and you saw them come out
of their tents and little lodgings, as thick as little
ants when you uncover the ant-hills, to bring help
to their comrades, who were having their throats
cut like sheep. Their cavalry also came from all
sides at full gaXXo^, patati, patata, patati, patata, pa,
ta, ta, patata, pata, ta, eager to be in the thick of
the fighting, to give and take their share of the
blows. And when our men saw themselves hard
pressed, they would turn back into the town, fight-
ing all the way; and those pursuing them were
driven back with cannon-shots, and the cannons were
loaded with flint-stones and with big pieces of iron,
square or three-sided. And our men on the wall
fired a volley, and rained bullets on them as thick
as hail, to send them back to their beds ; whereas
many remained dead on the field : and our men also

"Journeys in Diverse Places" 63

did not all come back with whole skins, and there
were always some left behind (as it were a tax levied
on us) who were joyful to die on the bed of honour.
And if there was a horse wounded, "it was skinned
and eaten by the soldiers, instead of beef and
bacon ; and if a man was wounded, I must run and
dress him. Some days afterward there were other
sallies, which infuriated the enemy, that we would
not let them sleep a little in safety.

M. de Guise played a trick upon them : he sent
a peasant, who was none of the wisest, with two
letters to the King, and gave him ten crowns, and
promised the King would give him an hundred if he
got the letters to him. In the one letter M. de
Guise told the King that the enemy shewed no
signs of retreating, and had put forth all their
strength and made a great breach, which he hoped
to defend, even at the cost of his own life and of all
who were in the town ; and that the enemy had
planted their artillery so well in a certain place
(which he named) that it was with great difficulty he
could keep them from entering the town, seeing it was
the weakest place in the town ; but soon he hoped
to rebuild it well, so that they should not be able to
enter. This letter was sewed in the lining of the
man's doublet, and he was told to be very careful
not to speak of it to any person. And the other

64 Ambroise Pare

letter \vas given to him. wherein M. de Guise told
the King that he and all those besieged with him
hoped to guard the town well; and other matters
which I leave untold here. He sent out the man at
night, and he was taken by the enemy's guard and
brought to the Duke of Alva, that the Duke might
hear what was doing in the town ; and the peasant
was asked if he had any letters. He said "Yes,"
and gave them the one ; and they having seen it
asked him if he had not another. He said " No."
Then he Avas searched, and they found on him that
which was sewed in his doublet ; and the poor mes-
senger was hanged and strangled.

The letters were taken to the Emperor, who called
his council, where it was resolved, since they had
been unable to do anything at the first breach, the
artillery should forthwith be set against the place
which they thought weakest, where they put forth
all their strength to make a fresh breach ; and they
sapped and mined the wall, and tried hard to make
a way into the Hell Tower, but dared not assault it

The Duke of Alva represented to the Emperor
that every day their soldiers were dying, to the
number of more than two hundred, and there was
so little hope of entering the town, seeing the
time of vear and the ^reat number of our soldiers

'•Journeys in Diverse Places" 65

who were in it. The Emperor asked what men
they were who were dying, and whether they were
gentlemen and men of mark ; answer was made to
him " They were all poor soldiers." Then said he,
" It was no great loss if they died," comparing them
to caterpillars, grasshoppers, and cockchafers, which
eat up the buds and other good things of the earth ;
and if they were men of any worth they would not
be in his camp at six livres the month, and there-
fore it was no great harm if they died. Moreover,
he said he would never depart from the town
till he had taken it by force or by famine, though
he should lose all his army ; because of the great
number of princes who were shut up in it, with the
greater part of the nobility of France, who he hoped
would pay his expenses four times over ; and he
would go yet again to Paris, to see the Parisians, and
to make himself King of all the kingdom of France.
i\I. de Guise, with the princes, captains, and sol-
diers, and in general all the citizens of the town,
having heard the Emperor's resolve to exterminate
us all, forbade the soldiers and citizens, and even
the princes and seigneurs, to eat fresh fish or venison,
or partridges, woodcocks, larks, francolines, plovers,
or other game, for fear these had acquired any pes-
tilential air Vi'hich could bring infection among us.

So they had to content themselves with the fare of

66 Ambroise Pare

the army ; biscuit, beef, salt cow-beef, bacon, cerve-
las, and Mayence hams ; also fish, as haddock, salmon,
shad, tunny, whale, anchovy, sardines, herrings ; also
peas, beans, rice, garlic, onions, prunes, cheeses, but-
ter, oil, and salt ; pepper, ginger, nutmegs and other
spices to put in our pies, mostly of horses, which
without the spice had a very bad taste. Many citi-
zens, having gardens in the town, had planted them
with fine radishes, turnips, carrots, and leeks, which
they kept flourishing and very dear, for the extreme
necessity of the famine. Now all these stores were
distributed by weight, measure, and justice, accord-
ing to the quality of the persons, because we knew
not how long the siege would last. For after we heard
the Emperor's words, how he would not depart from
before Metz, till he had taken it by force or by
famine, the victuals were cut down ; and what they
used to distribute to three soldiers was given to
four ; and it was forbidden to them to sell the re-
mains which might be left after their meals ; but they
might give them to the rabble. And they always
rose from table with an appetite, for fear they should
be subject to take physick.

And before we surrendered to the mercy of the en-
emy, we had determined to eat the asses, mules, and
horses, dogs, cats, and rats, even our boots and col-
lars, and other skins that we could have softened

"Journeys in Diverse Places" 67

and stewed. And, in a word, all the besieged were
resolved to defend themselves valiantly with all in-
struments of war ; to set the artillery at the entry
of the breach, and load with balls, stones, cart-nails,
bars and chains of iron ; also all sorts and kinds of
artificial fires, as barricadoes, grenades, stink-pots,
torches, squibs, fire-traps, burning faggots ; with
boiling water, melted lead, and lime, to put out the
enemy's eyes. Also, they were to make holes right
through their houses, and put arquebusiers in them,
to take the enemy in flank and hasten his going, or
else give him stop then and there. Also they were
to order the women to pull up the streets, and throw
from their windows billets, tables, trestles, benches,
and stools, to dash out the enemy's brains. More-
over, a little within the breach, there was a great
stronghold full of carts and palisades, tuns and casks ;
and barricades of earth to serve as gabions, interlaid
with falconets, falcons, field-pieces, crooked arque-
buses, pistols, arquebuses, and wild-fires, to break
their legs and thighs, so that they would be taken
from above and on the flank and from behind ; and
if they had carried this stronghold, there were others

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