A Case of Witchcraft: The Trial of Urbain Grandier
As a Catholic priest, Urbain Grandier was an influential figure in the Loudun community and local government. A brilliant speaker, he was popular with his parishioners. But he had enemies, including Cardinal Richelieu and Louis XIII, who were trying to wrest political autonomy from local govenors and centralize power in Paris. Grandier supported the govenor of Loudun and was therefore seen as an enemy of the Crown. In addition, the debonair priest's romantic intrigues brought him into conflict with some of the town's most influential power brokers. When a nearby convent of Ursuline nuns began experiencing strange visions and hallucinations, Grandier's enemies seized the opportunity to orchestrate his downfall. These mass possessions, which despite exorcism spread throughout the convent, were regarded as witchcraft and Grandier was accused of having caused them. Condemed by Richelieu and Louis XIII, Grandier was tortured and burned at the stake for his alleged crimes, but maintained his innocence till the end.
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