Piemont, Rebellion of the Valdesi, 1560-1561

The Valdesi (in French : Vaudois, in German : Waldensians) were a christian sect which had broken away from Catholicism in the 11th century; the adherents had settled in remote mountain valleys, in the Dauphine (where they were called Vaudois), in Piemont (where they were called Valdesi. In 1532 a Valdesi/Vaudois council joined the Swiss Reformation and in 1555 they became Calvinist; they passed a Valdesi confession and accepted Swiss priests. The population of the Valdesi was estimated at c. 15,000, mainly concentrated in the Pellice and Chisone valleys.
The latter stirred up resistance against the Catholic church, while the Catholic hierarchy (the Council of Trent was nearing its conclusion) pressed for the suppression of the Valdesi. Duke Emmanuel Philibert was not really interested in pursuing a conflict against a minority which had been inconspicuous for centuries.
In October the Valdesi took up arms and began to raid areas outside of their valleys, targeting Catholic churches and ousting Savoyard-Piemontese garrisons. The Duke responded by sending small units of soldiers into the Valdesi valleys, which killed the flocks of the Valdesi, burnt down farmhouses etc. There were no major engagements. Negotiations resulted in the submission of the Valdesi to favourable terms June 1561; they were granted the right to practice religious service according to their faith in their valleys.

In 1655 and again in 1686-1689 did the Dukes of Savoy-Piemont attempt to force the Valdesi to convert to Catholicism or emigrate, in 1686 they succeeded in taking control of the Valdesi valleys.

The Vaudois. Proceedings against them, from E. Armstrong, Tuscany and Savoy, posted by MATEO

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on March 25th 2004, last revised on November 18th 2004

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