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James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

April 17

On the Late Massacre in Piedmont

By John Milton (1608–1674)

  • The inhabitants of certain Piedmontese valleys had long held tenets and forms of worship very like those favored by the German reformers. In January, 1655, a sudden determination was taken by the Turin government to make them conform to another form of worship and belief or to quit the country, under pain of death. They sent a humble remonstrance to the Court of Turin, the remonstrance was unheeded, and on April 17, 1655, the soldiers were let loose upon the peaceful population, whom they massacred with every circumstance of brutality.

  • AVENGE, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints, whose bones

    Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold;

    Even them, who kept thy truth so pure of old,

    When all our fathers worshipped stocks and stones,

    Forget not: in thy book record their groans,

    Who were thy sheep, and in their ancient fold

    Slain by the bloody Piedmontese, that rolled

    Mother with infant down the rocks; their moans

    The vales redoubled to the hills, and they

    To heaven. Their martyred blood and ashes sow

    O’er all the Italian fields, where still doth sway

    The triple tyrant; that from these may grow

    A hundredfold, who, having learnt thy way,

    Early may fly the Babylonian woe.