Histoire (s) d’Occitanie: In Malviès (Aude) in 1789, a young man poisoned his mother and brother

Velasquez illustration “Old woman frying eggs”. National Galleries of Scotland, 1618. (© wikipedia)

History (s) of Occitania with Frédéric Juillet

Every Sunday, Frédéric Juillet publishes a column on Actu.fr dedicated to the deeds and gestures of our ancestors in Occitania.
Professor of history and genealogist in Toulouse, he feeds on documents compiled in the various departmental archival centers of Occitania and takes them out of the deepest drawers in history. For the most part, these stories are not told.

The village of Malviès (Aude) was in turmoil in the spring of 1789. This is serious. A very sad complaint was presented on May 25:

“On the eighth of the month a certain Charles Fournes, a young man of about 18, originally from the place of Malviès, who had lived for some time in the place of Saint-Hilaire, went to the house of Monsieur Jean, a pharmacist from the town of Limoux and there bought for two sols of arsenic which was delivered to him but, since the latter had some difficulties in delivering the arsenic to him, the name Honoré Guillem, blacksmith of the place of Saint-Martin-de-Villereglan encouraged the sieur John to deliver arsenic to Charles assuring him that he was a good boy and that he had nothing to fear. On May 17, Charles Fournes came to visit Marie Espérou his mother, widow in the first marriage of Jean Fournes and wife in second marriage of Jacques Rougé, housekeeper of Malviès and on the following day 18, his mother having cooked the morning beans both for his family and the gravediggers who worked in his vineyard, Charles Fournes cleverly put arsenic into the pot that held the beans and then withdrew to the place of Saint-Hilaire.

A poisoned and shared soup

The said Espérou who did not suspect anything, having changed the water of the beans and having used this first water to knead bran and bran for poultry, twenty-nine chickens and other birds that ate this bran died almost instantly. On the other hand, the said Espérou soaked the soup in the second broth of the said ariquat (dish of beans) and ate two tablespoons of it herself, then had her husband bring the soup from Rougé with also some of the beans to Jean Fournes, her son major, and the other workers who dug up the vineyard, and kept the rest of the soup and the ariquat at home.

Extraordinary pepper taste

Meanwhile Bernard Fournes, the other son, arrived from work in the fields, eagerly ate the portion of soup and beans reserved for his mother and suddenly, while he ate, he complained that he had put too much pepper with soup and beans. The latter assured him that she had not put it in and confessed that on her side, while he ate the soup, he had also found an extraordinary taste of pepper. A few moments later, the said Espérou began to vomit with violent efforts.immediately Bernard Fournes also exclaimed that he was lost and that he was vomiting with even more violent efforts.

Several people rushed to help them, we could not but persuade us that it was an effect of the soup and the beans that had been poisoned: we hurried to see the workers who were in the vineyard to prevent them from touching the dangerous foods that the said Rougé brought them without knowing the vice.

A dead person

The girl sent came to the vineyard just as the soup was about to be distributed and eaten, we tried to give it to two dogs who immediately threw up and almost died, the color of that ariquat, due to the effect of the poison, had turned red and yet Bernard Fournes, feeling the most acute pains that did not want to give in to all the counterweights that were administered to him, expired the following day 19, poisoned man and one does not know why .

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He was buried the same day around six in the evening. On his side Marie Espérou was then at the last extremity and everyone considered Charles Fournes the author of this poisoning, he even went so far as to brag about it himself, adding that he had accomplices …

But since justice has never had a more serious and atrocious crime to punish, the petitioner (the tax attorney) presents his complaint against Charles Fournes and his other accomplices ”.

A corrosive poison

The next day, two surgeons are instructed by the courts to exhume the body of the unfortunate Bernard and perform the autopsy:

“We would have observed it first the face and the whole head were very black, the eyes, nose, lips, tongue and ears very swollen, that the neck and chest were also a very bruised color, the belly very swollen and bruised, the rest of the skin was pale yellow.

From the rot and external signs, we felt that opening the corpse would not give us great clues due to the putridity of the bowels. We went to his dwelling house and after asking what had happened before his death, we were told that this man, eating bean soup, was very angry about what had been put there. something that burned his mouth, that at that moment he had been hit by a terrible vomit e diarrhea, burning thirst, shooting pains in the bowels, delirium, convulsions and cold in the extremities who ended his days in a few hours. We believe it is the effect of a corrosive poison. “

The hearing of witnesses, on May 26, proved overwhelming for young Charles:

Pascal Jean, 28, pharmacist in Limoux:
“On May 8, market day in the town of Limoux, in the midst of his occupations, someone came to his house who asked him for arsenic, a poison that is used in the treatment of livestock and which the slope preserves in the his shop. It was Honoré Guillem, taking with him a young man, the said Honoré begged him to hand over the young man whom he did not appoint for two lands of arsenic: at first he refused this request but Guillem having declared that the young man was a good companion and that he was not there was nothing to fear, he relied on his statement and gave the young man two sols of arsenic, but at the same time asked Guillem for aa written statement which he immediately produced and delivered to us.

On the day of the last Ascension, Honoré Guillem came to see the depositor in his house in Limoux and spoke to him more or less this language:
“Don’t you remember, Monsieur Jean, that arsenic you delivered to my prayers on May 8 at Fournes?” This wretch made a cruel use of it: he used it to poison his brother instead of Malviès! ”

These words struck the deponent like lightning and since then he has been sick with pain and ever since to testify to the deponent his innocence and his regrets ”.

Honoré Guillem, blacksmith from Saint-Martin-de-Villereglan, 53 years old:
“On the morning of the 8th, finding himself in the city of Limoux and buying coal there, he met a certain Charles Fournes who had been residing for some time in St Hilaire in apprenticeship with Pierre Gaspar, his brother-in-law master tailor, then said that he was waiting for Jacques Carbonel from the place of Malviès , who would have it arsenic to poison the rats which devoured all the possessions of his master Gaspar, who had the order of the latter but, not seeing the said Carbonelo arrive, asked him that some merchant would deliver the arsenic to him because he was not known and having presented himself to four merchants, they had refused him. “

Honoré then accepts and recommends it to the pharmacist Jean. But later, after learning of the poisoning of his brother and mother, he was “very dismayed by this event, went on Ascension Day to Mr. Jean and informed him of this catastrophe”.

Great wretch!

Guillaumette Frax, wife of Pierre Galoup, bra from Malviès, 35 years old:
“On May 18th, learning that Bernard Fournes and his mother had been poisoned, he ran to their house to help them and saw Bernard and Marie there, throwing up a lot, in the saddest state. The surgeon who treated them stated on seeing them that they were both poisoned and consequently he gave them plenty of milk, oil, and other antivenin. but Bernard died the next day in the greatest pain and in a burning thirst. Marie Espérou, she was and still is very ill.

Red beans!

The deponent learned from the said Espérou and from Bernard that they had been poisoned by eating beans, that during their cooking someone must have thrown poison into them, that the first water of the beans had been used to soak the bran or small sound for poultry, the the slope saw a flock of chickens and some hens that had eaten the dead ones, he also saw that the remaining beans were as red as if they had been boiled in lye. The suspicions of the poisoning fell on Charles Fournes who had come to see his mother on Sunday 17 and who had left on Monday 18 morning. He wasn’t two hundred paces from the village when his mother started throwing up. He returned to Malviès on the 19th to attend the burial of his brother Bernard.

The next day, 20, when they found themselves with her husband working in the morning in a vineyard they owned near the road leading to the town of Carcassonne, they saw Charles Fournes coming towards them, a stick in his hand, which in spite of himself, the husband she persisted in wanting to talk to Carlo, telling him:
– So you’re leaving Charles?
To which he replied:
– Yes, I’m going to see if the cherries are good.
Then the applicant’s husband could not hold back the tears and told Charles that he was very unfortunate for having poisoned his brother and mother in this way and for exposing other people to the poisoning at the same time. Carlo replied to her husband:
-What do you want? What’s done is done and even if I cut off my head it would be no less done, furthermore, if I am arrested, monsieur de Voisin and monsieur de Caillavel will save me and obtain pardon, but if I die, there will be others who will perish with me.

During the conversation, Charles seemed bewildered and like a man who fears being arrested ”.

confessions and mysteries

Paule Baluts, from Malviès, 35 years old:
“On the 18th she ran like the others to Jacques Rougé’s house where she saw that his wife and Bernard Fournes were throwing up a lot. She saw him expire in the greatest pain; the suspicion of poisoning had fallen on Charles Fournes. Having gone the next day to wash the dead man’s morgue, she had occasion to converse with Charles, who confessed that he had put two arsenic sols in the pot of beans that her mother was cooking, which his intention was not to poison Bernard or his mother, but that he was just mad at Jean Fournes, his older brother and that the latter pay him, which he repeated several times to the deponent e he confessed that there was another accomplice with him, whose name he never mentioned. He confessed to having bought arsenic in Limoux and that Honoré Guillem had lent him his signature to have it delivered ”.

Charles Fournes is ordered to seize the body (arrest). Which shows that at that date he was still a fugitive. The package, alas, stops there. His mother survived and died in 1809.
Did Carlo manage to escape justice? The same year, a young woman accused of poisoning several people was sentenced to burn in Viterbo (Tarn).

Sources: AD Aude, judicial series, B1474, 1789.
Modernized spelling.

Federico February

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