Steinhilben (near Reutlingen, Baden-Wurttemberg): 1572. Together 3 sheets. Ad 1: Folio (330 x 210 mm) penned by Ludwig III Duke of Wurttemberg. Recto: 25 lines including florished signature, verso blank; without watermark. Ad 2: (85 x 210), 4 lines, being a small document written on paper from the same stock as 1 and associated with it. Ad 3: Folio (330 x 215 mm) written to Ludwig III by an unnamed correspondent. Recto: 40 lines including names of some of the victims, 6 lines on verso; watermark "Lettre P" virtually identical to Briquet 8826 (Graz or Styrie, "1570"). Item #3068
UNPUBLISHED, STRICTLY CONTEMPORARY MANUSCRIPT ACCOUNT OF THE ST. BARTHOLOMEW'S DAY MASSACRE WRITTEN BY LUDWIG III, DUKE OF WURTTEMBERG, DATED SEPTEMBER 2, 1572 -- JUST DAYS AFTER THE HORRIBLE EVENTS TRANSPIRED IN PARIS -- TOGETHER WITH A SEPARATE DOCUMENT WHICH NAMES SOME OF THE PRINCIPLE VICTIMS AND PROVIDES ADDITIONAL DETAILS.
The French Wars of Religion produced one of the most brutal and excessive persecutions in history, including the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre in Paris which began on August 24, 1572 and continued for three hellish days. Thousands of Protestant Huguenots were tortured, raped, and murdered on the streets of Paris and elsewhere in France. The waves of barbarity by the perpetrators upon men, women, children, and infants, is too ghastly to relate. In the provinces the violence continued through October. Whereas the number of casualties can only be conjectured, one instructive piece of evidence is the record of a payment by the City of Paris to workmen for collecting and burying exactly 1,100 bodies; these were only the ones that had been washed up on the banks of the Seine during the week of August 24-31. A contemporary (Huguenot) chronicler estimated that upwards of 70,000 perished as a result of the pogrom.
The present letter was written by the Duke of Württemberg upon receipt of news of the first day of the massacre. He sends to an unnamed recipient a "very serious and very unhappy account" of the events. He also forwards a separate document, present here, which was probably sent to him by the diplomatic representative of Wurttemberg in Paris; judging from its date, the Huguenot blood on the streets of Paris had not yet been cleansed. In his letter, the Duke states that the Devil has not only has achieved his goals, but has done so through through voluntary instruments (i.e. the King and his Catholic supporters). Ludwig also mentions his concerns about the Catholic uprisings in The Netherlands.
The bespoke accompanying document is significant. Loosely translated, the text begins: "Here are the names of some of the Huguenots who were massacred in Paris on August 24, 1572 at four in the morning." This list includes fifteen names; the first two are of particular interest, namely Admiral Coligny and the Comte de La Rochefoucauld (Prince de Marcillac), both high ranking Huguenot captains. Following the list, the author states that five hundred men, of which most were members of the aristocracy, were slaughtered. Most of the escapees (including Gabriel, Comte de Montgomery) were caught, imprisoned, and strangled. The princes of Navarre and Condé were saved, but the King had them put in prison also; we learn that the entire Court, and indeed Paris itself, *is* at war (emphasis ours). The foreign mercenaries who were to put themselves at the service of Coligny returned to their country at the news of the massacre. The narrator hopes that the event will ultimately be in favor of the Reformers (i.e. the Protestants), but he was quite mistaken: thousands of Huguenots either left France or converted to Catholicism in order to save themselves and their families.
Ludwig III (1554-1593), "the Pious" (Ludwig der Fromme), was just fourteen when upon the death of his father Christoph became Duke of Wurttemberg, although at first it was under the guardianship of his mother Anna Maria von Brandenburg-Ansbach et al. At the time of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre he was only eighteen. In 1578, upon turning 24, he formally became ruler of the principality. His ardent defense of the Lutheran Church had already been expressed earlier. He was evidently a good navigator through the perils of late 16th-century Church and State codependence: during Ludwig's reign Wurttemberg was entirely at peace. So too was his personal life: he was fond of sport (particularly jousting), hunting, and drinking. Through his civic works he pursued a dynastic propaganda like no other ruler of Wurttemberg before or after him, constructing stately buildings and churches upon which were placed lavish family trees and coats of arms. One of these was the Neues Lusthaus in Stuttgart; sadly it was destroyed in 1901, but had it survived it would be among the most important buildings of the German late Renaissance. Ludwig founded the Collegium Illustre in Tubingen. He married rich, first to Dorothea Ursula, a daughter of Margrave Charles II of Baden-Durlach, and following her death to Ursula of Zweibrücken-Veldenz, a daughter of Count Palatine George John I.
Provenance: Maison Jacques Etienne et Noel Charavay (Paris) -- Dr. Otto Orren Fisher (1881-1961), gastroenterologist of Detroit, whose superb library ultimately contained ca. 80,000 volumes (sic) representing more than 50 centuries of civilization, with particular emphasis on the book arts. Fisher's collection included all four Shakespeare Folios (now at Miami University, poorly catalogued), the 1543 Vesalius, an exquisite 1445 prayerbook illuminated by Abul Makarim al-Murshidi, a colored copy of Bellin's "Petit Atlas Maritime" (1764), a contemporary manuscript of Las Casas' "Tractatus de Thesauris in Regnis del Peru" (not after 1566), "Principles of Mr. Harrison's Time-Keeper" (1767), an important Palimpsest in Christian-Palestinian Aramaic and Syriac, written at Mt. Sinai (the underlying text 6th century, the overlying text ca. 700) sold at Christie's last year, autograph letters by Benjamin Franklin, Egyptian artifacts, a fine, complete set of the Description de l'Egypte (now at the Kelsey Museum of Archeology), and Milton's own copy of "Britannia's Pastorals" by William Browne (London, 1613-1616) now untraced. Some of Fisher's books were donated to Miami University (Ohio), others have passed onto the market over the years (cf. single-owner sales at Swann on March 1 and April 5, 1979, and others, the property having been consigned by his widow): -- Mrs. Otto [nee Josephine Hillock] Fisher (1904-1996) whose name as a lender appears on a typed exhibition label accompanying the present offering (institution not stated). Her name is inscribed in ballpoint pen: "J.H. Fisher" on the Etienne & Charavey folder. -- Cowans Auctions 12/4/2008 lot 1314 (poorly catalogued, in addition to being erroneously ascribed to Friedrich I, Duke of Wurttemberg, who did not become sovereign until 1593).
This is the only contemporary account of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, in any language, that is recorded by Rare Book Hub, which currently lists more than 9 million records in the Rare Book Transaction database, save the letter of congratulations sent by Pope Gregory XIII to Charles IX dated September 5, 1572 (sold at Sotheby's London, May 28, 1956, lot 1543, GBP 640 = $1,779 which would be the equivalent of $17,019 as of April 2020 according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Cataloguer's note: we are grateful for the accompanying documentation supplied by Messrs. Etienne & Charavey; their description of the present manuscript has been indispensable owing to the fact that 16th-century German cursive handwriting can be exceedingly difficult to decipher, as here. For informational purposes only we have provided a reproduction of a contemporary engraving of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre by Frans Hogenberg.