The calvary in Soual honours the memory of Charles d’Alric, lord of Farinières, who was assassinated nearby in 1575. His death, and the death of his son three weeks later, are typical examples of just how personal this conflict often was, particularly in my part of south-west France. Elsewhere in the kingdom there were major battles – Jarnac, Moncontour and Coutras for example – but the area to the west of Toulouse suffered an endless succession of skirmishes and sieges which were never decisive and always bloody. There was no frontline, no geographic logic to which town, village or château was Catholic and which was Protestant.
Charles d’Alric and his family were Catholics, and their home was the Château de Farinières on the road between the Protestant strongholds of Puylaurens and Castres. The Protestants of Puylaurens knew that every Saturday Charles d’Alric was in the habit of making the journey from Labruguière, where he was governor, to Soual, where he kept a mistress. On Sunday morning, 25 December 1575, they lay in ambush in a ruined mill on the outskirts of Soual and waited for him to emerge after his Christmas Eve of pleasure. Before long, Charles d’Alric rode out of town through a gate near the calvary-memorial accompanied by the governor of Soual and three soldiers who were armed only with swords. Under cover of thick fog, the assassins took the Catholic party by surprise and brought Alric to the ground with a pistol shot. He rose to his knees, and with sword in hand he defended himself courageously until one of the attackers ran him through with a Protestant blade. The governor of Soual and the escort were taken prisoner.