Savoyard Crusade against the Valdesi 1655

Savoyard Crusade against the Valdesi, 1686-1689

In 1655 Duke Charles Emmanuel of Savoy-Piemont had launched a first campaign to evict Piemont's Waldensian population, in Italian referred to as the Valdesi, in French as the Vaudois, in German as the Waldenser. It was terminated at the request of Oliver Cromwell; the Dukes of Savoy-Piemont, however, continued to regard their Valdesi subjects as suspicious elements; the latter were exposed to numerous indignations.
In 1685 King Louis XIV. of France revoked the Edict of Nantes and sent his soldiers into the French regions inhabited by Protestants (Dragonnades). France pressurized Duke Victor Amadeus of Savoy-Piemont into pursuing a similar policy and offered French military aid.
In 1686, the Savoyard-Piemontese Dragonnades began, French and Savoyard-Piemontese troops, between 15,000 and 20,000 men, marching into the Valdesi valleys. The Guardia del Corpo, predecessor of the modern Carabinieri, saw her first military action in this campaign.
The Valdesi were ultimatively asked to leave the country within two weeks (Jan. 31st 1686). Many emigrated to Switzerland, Württemberg, Hessen. Those who remained resisted, inflicting severe losses on the invading forces, but were overcome. Several thousand Valdesi were massacred, many more incarcerated, many of these executed.
In 1686 the Savoyard forces were masters of the valleys of the Valdesi; yet groups of exiles returned, and again settled on the farms of their ancestors, reestablishing Valdesi communities and resisting Savoyard / Counterreformtion pressure.

I Valdesi, from Cronologia, in Italian
I Valdesi - la Storia, from Pinerolo Cultura, in Italian
History of the Waldenses, by J.A. Wylie
Le choix de la repression 1655-1686, from Vaudois et Protestants dans les Etats de Savoie-Piemont du XVIe au XVIIIe Siecle, in French
La Costituzione delle Guardie del Corpo, from Carabinieri, in Italian
I Valdesi, from alpimedia

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on March 13th 2004, last revised on Nvember 19th 2004

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