French Revolution III
Phase of Terror 1793-1795

The Vendee Rebellion of 1793/1794 (-1796)

A.) The Pre-History of the Rebellion

In the mostly rural region of the VENDEE in western France (between Nantes and La Rochelle), political sentiment in 1793 was ROYALIST. The farmers regarded many institutions of the young republic - new taxation, general conscription, the abolition of old regional and local privileges, as a threat to them rather than as an asset. They were outraged about the execution of the king.

B.) The Military Course of Events

The National Convention, on February 24th, had decided on the CONSCRIPTION of 300,000 men, scheduled for March 12th 1793. On that day, preparations for the fevolt were made in ST. FLEURENT LE VIEIL. The population of other places joined; the Vendean militia fights revolutionary troops; the Vendeans, in March-July, militarily, held on pretty well; they undertook offensive operations, occupied Angers on June 19th.
The Vendee insurgents were organized in a number of armies, commanded by able leaders (Charette, d'Elbee, La Rochejaquelein, Stofflet) , many of whom were noblemen and had previous military experience.
On August 1st the Convention decreed the destruction of the Vendee. Kleber, commissioned with the execution of that decree, with an army of 100,000, arrived at Nantes September 6th. On Sept. 19th his forces, the BLUES, were defeated by the WHITES (Vendeans) in the BATTLE OF TORFU. In October the Vendeans suffered several defeats; on Nov. 4th they won at FOUGERES, on Dec. 12th at LE MANS. On Dec. 23rd at SAVENAY, core of the Vendean army surrounded and annihilated.
The BLUES (Republican side) committed massacres, first against those regarded instigators of the rebellion (priests), against prisoners of war, and then against the entire population of rebel villages, not sparing women, children and the old.
Several Vendean units were still in the field; fighting was bitter and Vendeans occasionally still won victories (March 25th 1794, April 17th).
On July 28th ROBESPIERRE was executed in Paris; the RTERROR PHASE of the French revolution was over. CARRIER, one of the revolutionary commanders in the Vendee campaign, was executed on December 16th.

Fighting ceased (Dec. 26th 1794); on Feb. 17th 1795 the TREATY OF JAUNAY was signed, regarded a peace treaty for the Vendee.

The rebellion was resumed in 1795 and finally abandoned in 1796.

C.) The Legacy

The Vendean rebellion was a climax in the history of the French Revolution. Because of the obstinate, determined resistance of the Vendeans the Jacobins escalated their policy of terror, not only sentencing individuals regarded enemies of the people, but pursuing a policy of genocide. This escalation of violence brought the downfall of Robespierre, the Jacobins, the Convention.
Many reforms the Vendeans had revolted against were still in force; but the fight had been extremely costly in human lives (over 200,000 dead). The CONCORDATE Napoleon signed with the pope in 1801 restored the Catholic church in France.

The Vendee Insurrection, from Woodberry Forest School
La Guerre de Vendee, from rcombes
Les Guerres de Vendee, from chouans
Les Guerres de Vendee
Sophie Masson, Remembering the Vendee
Les Guerres de Vendee, Guide Documentaire, by Didier Vermont, bilbiography, in French
DOCUMENTS Documents, from the Vendee Page, in English translation
De l'Epopee au Mythe, from, French language documents De Vendee, in : Andere revolutionaire of anti-Franse opstanden, by Wim van Dijck, in Dutch, scroll down

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on November 19th 2004

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