PERISSIN, Jean (before 1546-1617) and Jacques TORTOREL (fl: 1568-1575). Le massacre fait a Tours par la populace au mois de Iuillet. 1562. Geneva: Nicholas Castellin, 1569-1570
Single sheet (16 x 20 2/8 inches). Fine woodcut with Perissin's monogram lower left after a copper engraving by Franz Hogenberg, woodcut title above and legend below the neat line.
THE MASSACRE OF THE HUGUENOTS AT TOURS IN 1562
Number 14 of 40 plates (including the illustrated title-page) in the celebrated series published with titles and legends in French (as here), German, Italian and Latin, as "Premier volume contenant quarante tableaux ou histoires diverses qui sont memorables touchant les guerres, massacres et troubles advenus en France en ces dernieres annees. Le tout recueilli selon le tesmoignage de ceux qui y ont este en personne" - "First Volume, containing forty tableaus or divers memorable histories concerning the wars, massacres and troubles that have occurred in France in these last years. All gathered from the testimony of those who were there in person and saw them, and truly portrayed".
"THE FIRST EXTENDED PRINT SERIES OFFERING A PICTORIAL ACCOUNT OF RECENT EVENTS where the images do not simply illustrate a written history but carry the burden of telling the story themselves, and that was intended not to glorify a ruler's deeds but to show a broad general public the events of their time" (Benedict, page 4)
An extraordinary scene showing the complete massacre of the Huguenots by the people of Tours on July 11th, 1562, also issued as an etching, and sometimes with an account of the massacre rather than a legend beneath. The massacre was in reprisal for the Huguenots having taken the city of Tours on April 2nd and looting its churches. As a result the Catholics with the help of the Royal army threw men, women and children from the bridge into the teaming Loire below. They were then shot, hacked and clubbed to death from the shore and in boats. a prominent judge, alleged to have swallowed his gold, is shown hanged from a tree with his entrails drawn out, as the soldiers look for the gold hidden there. The bodies are seen left floating in the Loire to become carrion for flocks of crows and even wild dogs. 200 prisoners were taken and housed in the church of Notre-Dame-la-Riche, outside the city walls, and left there for 3 days without food before being massacred.
Other specific and very graphic examples of cruelty are incorporated into this extraordinary print. Amid the killing a terrified Huguenot woman is shown giving birth, only to have the child snatched away and thrown into the Loire; and a soldier holds up another Huguenot baby and offers one of his companions money if he can shoot it.
Tours was one of the first cities where the Huguenots secured political domination in the wake of the massacre of Vassy. In July, the combined royal and Catholic forces retook it after a brief siege directed by the marshal de St. Andre. The Huguenots negotiated surrender terms according to which they were promised safe passage from the city, but the agreement was not respected and many of the Protestants were killed" (Benedict 14).
The publishing history of the "Quarante Tableaux" is extremely complex, and explained in great detail by Philip Benedict in his excellent "The Graphic History: the Wars, Massacres and Troubles of Tortorel and Perrissin" 2007. However the events depicted begin with the "special meeting of the Parlement of Paris in June 1559 at which Anne Du Bourg spoke out before king Henry II against the harsh repression of Protestantism through [to] a minor skirmish between Hugenot and Catholic forces along the Rhone in March 1570. The first dozen or so plates show the events that led up to the outbreak of open civil war in spring 1562. The remainder of the series is comped of events from the first three French Wars of Religion (1562-1563, 1567-1568, and 1568-1570). Above all it is a compendium of battles (15 pictures), sieges (5 pictures), raids (4 pictures) and massacres (3 pictures - 5 if the massacres from prior to the outbreak of the First civil war are included)" (Benedict, page 6).
Franz Hogenberg subsequently re-engraved this image and issued it in about 1575.