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which were in the mountains, and defend themselves easily, till the succours from France and Savoy, which were in readiness, could come and second them; but a dreadful fright from God fell upon them, so that they had no courage nor conduct to defend themselves against the Vaudois, who, without any trouble or resistance, chased them out of the valleys.
" Is it not likewise a great miracle, that a handful of people, without any commanders experienced in warlike affairs, should subsist eight months in the valleys, and fight nine or ten battles against the army of France and Savoy, who were sometimes twenty, but oftener thirty against one, without being able to drive them out of their fastnesses, having killed more than two thousand of their enemies? So many happy successes make it clear the God of battles inspired them with the generous courage of returning into their own country, to kindle again the candle of his word, that the emissaries of Satan had extinguished there, that he marched before them, and fought for them, without which it had been impossible to have forced so many difficult passes, and gained such signal victories.
“ The conduct of God in the re-establishment of the Vaudois is admirable, and makes it evident that his divine Providence has judgment and ways incomprehensible, surpassing all human understanding. The King of France in the year 1686, pushed on the Duke of Savoy to compel the Vaudois to forsake their religion, and to take the same measures he had taken against the Protestants of France : they joined their arms together to force them, and to compass their design, they violated not only the treaty made with the predecessors of the duke, but also treaties, oaths, and promises made by their generals, took them prisoners, killed and massacred them, violated their wives and daughters, killed their little children, and made use of all sorts of cruelty against these innocent people, after they had laid down their arms: and in the year 1690 God sent
a spirit of division between the King of France and the Duke of Savoy, insomuch that they strove who should first gain the Vaudois to their party, and by this division the Duke of Savoy was forced to re-establish the Vaudois in their rights and privileges, and to set all at liberty that had been imprisoned, and to recal all those that were dispersed in foreign countries. And so the king of France, who had been the principal cause of their ruin, became, against his will, the cause of their re-establishment, by forcing the Duke of Savoy to join with the allies: this shews that God mocks and derides the designs and councils of princes when they are levelled against Jesus Christ and his church 8."
8 See Boyer's History of the Vaudois, p. 226.
Rora—Its secluded situation-Retrospect-Gratitude of Victor
Amadeus II.-Exploits of Gianavello - Treachery of the Marquess di Pianezza—Heroic defence of Rora—Massacre at Rora
-- Last achievements of Gianavello-Sufferings of Giovanni Pallias, Paoli Clementi, and Gianavello's sister--Affecting taleTraits of character-Juvenile disinterestedness-Comparative mendicity in Protestant and Catholic countries—Blasphemy un. known among the Vaudois-Temperate and manly remonstrance.
It was our intention to have crossed the Pelice from Bobbio, and to have found our way over the mountains to Rora, or Rorata, but we were assured that it was quite impracticable in consequence of the late fall of snow. The parish, or communautè of Rora, is the smallest of the Protestant parishes; its population is about seven hundred. It is also situated farther to the south than any of the rest, and may be said to stand almost entirely separated from the other villages of the Vaudois. The craggy tops of the lofty Sea Bianca seem to rise just above it, and Mount Viso itself is distinguished among the towering summits, at the basements of which the little village is built. Mount Friolant separates it from the valley of the Po, and its hamlets are picturesquely suspended over the torrent of Luzerna, which takes its rise from that mountain. Locked up, as it is, in a very narrow valley, its soil is for the most part rocky and unproductive: but in the intervals between the rocks it is fertile, and, like the other districts of the Vaudois, extremely well cultivated. Prodigious chesnut-trees decorate the slopes of the mountains, and for eight or ten weeks in the summer time, the rich pasturages of the higher regions
EXPLOITS OF GIANAVELLO.
tempt the inhabitants to leave their dwellings in the vale, and to drive their cattle thither.
Unfortunately for Rora, its sequestered situation rendered it an easy prey in the days of persecution, and nearly the whole population have been more than once put to the sword, before their brethren on the north of the Pelice could send them any succours. But Rora, as well as Bobbio and Angrogna, has had its heroes, and its fastnesses have been the secure retreat not only of persecuted Protestants, but also of royal fugitives, when they could find none so loyal and faithful as their Vaudois subjects. The hidingplaces of Victor Amadeus are still shewn to the tourist, and the name of Durand will be as little forgotten as the gratitude of his sovereign, in return for the protection which he had afforded.
“I grant you," said the Duke of Savoy, “ I grant you and your family, for ever, the privilege of using your garden as a burying-ground !!!"
The exploits of Gianavello", and his comrades, during the dreadful persecution of 1655, did not fall short of those of Henri Arnaud, and his band of eight hundred, although they were not crowned with equal success in the end. After the bloody havoc that was made by the Marquess di Pianezza', at San Giovanni, La Torre, and Villaro, the Count Christophel resolved to display similar devotion to his prince, by doing something at Rora, which should rival those achievements; he therefore sent three hundred soldiers from Villaro, to surprize Rora, and pillage the houses. The inhabitants were too well aware of what had been going on, on the other side of the Pelice, not to be on their guard, and their forces were divided in such a manner, as to watch all the approaches from the quarters occupied by the enemy.
Christophel's detachment had crossed the river, and were espied by Gianavello, just as they were ascending the little
La See distinguished mention of this hero in the order of council, referred to in p. 88.
See Appendix, No. 4,
MARQUESS DI PIANEZZA.
hill of Rumer, behind which he was posted, with seven or eight capital marksmen. Long before the troops were expecting to be received by an armed force, and even before they deemed it requisite to march in any regular order, they were saluted with a rapid fire of musquetry from various directions, for Gianavello had disposed of his men so judiciously, in ambuscade, that it did not seem to come from one point only, but from the right and left, as well as the front. The enemy were thrown into confusion in an instant, and fled amain to Villaro: in their way back they had to traverse a wood, which lies between the mountains and the Pelice. Gianavello and his men pursued, but in such a manner as to keep out of sight, and being concealed, as they advanced, by the trees and shrubs, poured in a murderous fire upon the fugitives.
The commander of the royal army, Di Pianezza, affected to disclaim the whole proceeding, and as Rora had hitherto made no resistance to the soldiers, who were over-running the country, he declared that the three hundred had acted without his orders, and that Rora should have no occasion to fear any thing for the future. But upon the principle that no faith is to be kept with heretics, five hundred men were despatched the next day, to accomplish what the other detachment had failed in doing. Gianavello was again fortunate in his choice of a place, where he remained in ambush with eleven musqueteers, and six slingers, and this small force was sufficient to defeat an enemy, who were already half conquered by their own terrors. The tale of the previous day had filled their minds with a dread, which made them feel more like victims hurried to slaughter, than soldiers marching to battle. The first volley put them to flight, and Rora was once more delivered.
A third enterprise, of the same sort, was projected, but upon this occasion, Gianavello, instead of waiting for the attack, put himself at the head of his little band, and fell upon the vanguard of the Roman Catholics, at Ramasiero. The result of this bold exploit was the third retreat of the