The Devils of Loudun
Urbain Grandier, parson of the French town of Loudun, was tortured and burned at the stake in 1634. He was accused of being in league with the Devil ... Show synopsis Urbain Grandier, parson of the French town of Loudun, was tortured and burned at the stake in 1634. He was accused of being in league with the Devil and seducing an entire convent of nuns, in what is the most sensational case of mass possession and sexual hysteria in history. Charming, handsome, dandyish and promiscuous, as soon as Grandier arrived in Loudun it became clear that he took more than a pastoral interest in his female parishioners. His reputation for arousing extraordinary sexual passions in the townswomen spread to the Prioress of the local convent, Sister Jeanne, who became obsessed with the "delicious monster". Soon all the nuns were gripped by fits and convulsions, falling into frenzied orgies of lustful depravity that attracted tourists from all over France. But was Grandier really the sorcerer responsible for their possession, or was it a political frame-up from Cardinal Richelieu down, to get this arrogant, womanizing priest out of the way? Aldous Huxley's account, which was made into a salacious film by Ken Russell, is full of details of witchcraft, gruesone exorcisms and the superstitions of an age haunted by devils.