Cromwell, Protector of the Vaudois

At Easter, 1655, thousands of Christians were massacred by the Catholic Duke of Savoy. These believers, a type of proto-protestant called Waldensians suffered horribly at the hands of the duke. Having first forced them out of their valleys up into the mountains, he then ordered them to provide quarter for his troops. This meant having these brutes live in their homes, eating and drinking as they wished. At 4 o'clock one morning, these horrid guests raped and slaughtered their hosts, subjecting them to all manner of tortures and humiliations.

Oliver Cromwell called a day of fasting in England for these distant Christian martyrs and personally contributed £2000 to a collection for the survivors. He sent a diplomat, Samuel Morland, to protest to the duke, and to threaten military intervention. He also exerted great pressure on the French to oppose the duke’s actions.

John Milton, Cromwell’s Latin Secretary, wrote


Avenge O Lord thy slaughter’d Saints, whose bones

Lie scatter’d on the Alpine mountains cold,

Ev’n them who kept thy truth so pure of old

When all our Fathers worship’t Stocks and Stones,


Forget not: in thy book record their groanes

Who were thy Sheep and in their antient Fold

Slayn by the bloody Piemontese that roll’d

Mother with Infant down the Rocks. Their moans


The Vales redoubl’d to the Hills, and they

To Heav’n. Their martyr’d blood and ashes sow

O’re all th’ Italian fields where still doth sway


The triple Tyrant: that from these may grow

A hunder’d-fold, who having learnt thy way

Early may fly the Babylonian wo.


The painting above (Cromwell, Protector of the Vaudois, 1877) by Ford Madox Brown shows Cromwell dictating a letter to the murderous duke to John Milton and Joint Secretary Andrew Marvell, both better known for their poetry than their relief of God’s people. The duke eased his persecutions as a result but resumed them after the Protector’s death. It is displayed at Manchester Art Gallery. 

 Christians continue to be savagely persecuted in various parts of the world, with North Korea and Iran being two of the worst examples. As Christians, we should either be persecuted, or supporting those who are. 

Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

Hebrews 11