The Revolution’s barbarism is highlighted by a sister’s heroic offer

August 15, 2011

The narrations of affecting suffering, of Christian fortitude, of providential escapes that have been recorded are innumerable. Some of them we will here set down. In the midst of all the cruelty of the terrorists, they awarded to the pregnant woman and nursing mother a respite from death. But this show of mercy only concealed the greater barbarity. A lady named Madame de la Roche Saint André was arrested and condemned as a royalist. She pleaded her pregnancy, and was led back from the scaffold to prison. There she was safely delivered, and for some time continued to nurse her child. Thus the helpless babe preserved the life of her who had given it life; and in the depth of her dungeon the companions of Madame de la Roche Saint André bestowed incessant care upon the infant, on the frail thread of whose existence hung the safety of its mother. But in spite of their care, one night it died, stifled with the foul air in which it first drew its breath. The next morning, the man employed to select the victims accosted the bereaved lady thus: “Your child is dead; we only allowed you to live that you might nourish it; today you shall die.” In vain her sister, Mademoiselle de Janon, begged, as a great favor, to be permitted to die in her stead. The ruffians who sat on the bloody bench replied, “No, you would be too happy to make the sacrifice;” and Madame de la Roche Saint André was punished for the death of her infant, and died on the scaffold with all the resignation of a Christian.


George J. Hill, The Story of the War in La Vendée and the Little Chouannerie (New York: D. & J. Sadlier & Co. n.d.), pp. 131-132.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 100




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