Part 4: The Street (Rue Michel-le-Comte)
Pierre Cadelan's House
On May 13, 1678 there was an interrogation in the Bastille of a 22 year-old lady named Catherine Leroy, a sorceress and servant of an alchemist who concocted poisons. Her job was to deliver to Pierre Cadelan, who lived on Rue Michel-le-Comte in Paris, baskets of vials containing poison which he would then export to customers in other lands. She described the house as having a large carriage entrance with door chimes.
Interrogation of Catherine Leroy, 1678-05-13
Bastille Archives, Vol.4 P.433Translation:
Where was Cadelan living when you took him the vials?
- He lived on rue Michel-le-Comte, at a large gateway entrance for carriages where there were door chimes.
Did you take the vials to Cadelan, and did you speak to him?
- No, I never saw him or spoke to him, but when I arrived at the door la Chaboissiere took the basket containing the vials and brought it to Cadelan himself, leaving me to wait in the street.
What was the color of what was contained in the vials that you carried in your basket?
- When la Chaboissiere was through with boiling the herbs the liquor was thick and greenish but after it was left to settle and he had made powders from it, the liquor changed instantly in color and stayed like unfermented wine which was clear. And that was the same color of the stuff in the vials that I carried.
How many vials of this same liquor were in the baskets that you took to Cadelan's house?
- Once there were four vials; another time there were five, and I might have carried them a third time.
Would you recognize similar flasks full of such liqueur if they were presented to you again?
Did you help la Chaboissière pour the contents into the flasks?
- No, it was la Dusoulcye who did that, but I remember that once la Chaboissière, having put the same stuff in an earthen basin, I put my hand into the basin and he quickly pulled it out and wiped it off with a cloth. He said I could have died, and this happened in the presence of la Dusoulcye.
Did la Dusoulcye know what the composition was?
The detailed (Turgot Map of Paris, 1739) shows one house on Rue Michel-le-Comte that seems to match Catherine Leroy's description. A picture on 'Wikipedia' appears to be taken directly opposite a large entrance doorway for carriages which one would expect to find from the Turgot map. Therefore this could be the exact doorway that Catherine Leroy visited some 340 years ago at the house of Jean Rondeau-Marie Crommelin-Pierre Cadelan in order to deliver to her colleague some vials of poison in the infamous Parisian 'Affair of the Poisons'. Being a wealthy banker with a large family, Jean Rondeau [who was poisoned by Cadelan] may have owned the entire quadrangle of buildings that enclosed the courtyard in which carriages could enter.
Rue Michel-le-Comte, Paris
Click to enlarge.
La Chaboissière, the man who concocted many of the poisons during the scandal, was the last culprit to be executed in this sordid affair. Catherine Leroy was sentenced to perpetual imprisonment at Belle-Île-en-Mer where she was likely chained to a wall for the rest of her life. Similarly, Pierre Cadelan died in chains at Citadel de Besancon after having spent seven years in prison. He was about 46 years old when he died in September 1684. His wife, Marie Crommelin, died 3 years earlier of unknown causes, age 41. She was buried in the cemetery of Charenton temple. Amazingly Rue Michel-le-Comte still exists today under its old name, and the buildings look in remarkably good condition - still serving the needs of home-owners some 350 years later!
Part 1: The Family
Part 2: The Affair
Part 3: The Secret
Part 4: The Street
Part 5: 'La Voisin'