Vendée uprising

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Henri de La Rochejaquelein. Illustration of a 19th century biography

The term Vendée uprising ( French guerre de Vendée ) denotes the armed struggle of the royalist - Catholic -minded rural population of the Vendée and neighboring departments against representatives and troops of the First French Republic from 1793 to 1796. Over 300,000 dead and the targeted destruction of settlements, Livestock and agricultural land have been the result.


The Guerre de Vendée was a civil war following the French Revolution that began from 1789 to 1792 with non-violent protests and peasant manifestations supported by the Catholic Church. In 1793, when the revolutionary government introduced compulsory military service, it became an armed rebellion and, as the conflict became increasingly brutal on both sides, it became a war of counterrevolution . Troops of the emigrated nobility and supporters of the monarchy who took part in the counter-revolution - financially and militarily supported by the British government of William Pitts - had no lasting influence .

The human balance of the roughly three-year uprising was devastating for the affected departments . Some communities lost between 25 and 35% of their population. The number of dead is estimated at 300,000. Some historians in France suggest that the crackdown was genocide ; H. was genocide. "The French Revolution had entered history as the great forerunner of the totalitarian terror of our century [meaning the 20th]."

In France, even during the Jacobin dictatorship, “Vendée” was synonymous with counter-revolution and violent resistance from other regions against the government of the First Republic: “The Vendée is no longer just the core area of ​​a revolt [...]. The Vendée is everywhere today. ”( François Noël Babeuf )
The energetic, very often inhuman suppression of the uprising and the pacification of the West by republican, politically active military and administrative officials from all parts of France is considered to be an important contribution to the“ creation of national unity in France seen."

Symbol of resistance: the Sacré-Cœur with the motto “God, King” was sewn onto the clothing of the rebels.


The breeding ground for the survey was the social and economic dissatisfaction of the peasants living in mid-west France who had joined the revolution because of the abolition of the privileges of the nobility, but who saw their “traditional parish life” threatened by the church policy of the National Assembly. The strongly rural landscape of the Vendée comprised the greater part of old Poitou , part of Anjou and Brittany and was one of those regions of France in which the Catholic faith was particularly deeply rooted. In this region in particular, the persecution of priests met with indignation; These were those parish clerics who refused to take the oath required by the National Assembly on the constitution and thus on the civil constitution of the clergy.

In addition, the National Assembly had the land and property of the clergy expropriated which the assignats - paper money should guarantee. When they sold these national goods ( biens nationaux ) , this was of particular benefit to the urban bourgeoisie of the Vendée. The farmers, as tenants of the arable land, had mostly come away empty-handed due to a lack of capital and therefore hated the bourgeoisie in the cities who had acquired the former church property. The expropriation of property from the church - the clergy was then paid by the state - was understood as a plan to destroy the Catholic religion.

Tax reforms and new agricultural laws of the revolution had neither made nor reduced the tax burden in the eyes of the peasants. On the contrary: the introduction of a direct main tax , the Contribution personelle et mobilière, felt like a tax increase, as it had to be paid in the new collection practice because of the previous bad tax morale . In their expectation of freedom and equality through the revolution, they felt deceived and disadvantaged. "The" program "of the insurgents in 1793 was not actually counter-revolutionary, but aimed at rural dignity and freedom."

The uprising came in a particularly critical phase of the young republic: the rate of assignats had fallen to a quarter of their face value due to new issues. In anticipation of an invasion by the English and the emigrated royalists, combat troops had been concentrated near the ports on the coast, which were lacking inland. In the north, east and south of France the republic fought against the coalition forces of the monarchies. In 60 of 80 départements there was unrest and resistance against revolutionary Paris, where radical, moderate and conservative groups fought for power to govern and the completion of the revolution and carried these disputes with frequent, politically motivated changes of strategy and command in the armies. Indiscipline, disorganization and lack of supplies on the part of the Republicans helped the insurgents to achieve the successes at the beginning of their revolt.

Military situation in 1793

The "Vendée militaire" (in green the forests most important for hiding places).

The republican troops were commanded in May 1793 by General Biron , who had been delegated to the Vendée against his will by the National Convention. He found the "Army of La Rochelle" "in terrible disorder". Actually set up for coastal protection, she was by forced recruitment intensified "in confusion, without instructions, without discipline, without provisions to the Vendée thrown." There were also hard to leading volunteer battalions and the National Guard , led by the sansculottischen brewers General Santerre or the former actor Gramont . A number of Representatives en mission sent by the Convention to control and organize the army prevented a political solution to the conflict and instead spread panic in Paris. The result was a radicalization of government directives, ending in terror.

“[...] These [the government representatives] contradicted each other and the generals. […] This conflict of authorities resulted in a chaos of charges and orders. General Biron did not dare to set his army on the march, for fear that it would disband on the first move or loot everything on the way. "

The Jacobins in Paris, who had initially seen the uprising as a police action against deserters , adventurers and highway robbers, les brigands , changed professional officers and made commanders who were inexperienced in the military and revolutionary activists. In the spring and summer of 1793, defeats and republicans deserting or surrendering as a whole were therefore frequent results of the war in the Vendée.

It was not until the change of government in Paris and the dispatch of experienced generals and line troops from the northern border that the republic successfully combated all counter-revolutionary resistance from late autumn 1793.

The army of the Vendée , the Armée catholique et royale de Vendée, was seven divisions in the summer of 1793 , with an estimated total of 40 - 60,000 peasant and artisan soldiers who were able to band together quickly, but just as quickly disbanded and returned to their farms and workshops returned. The largest division de Saint-Florent-le-Vieil counted around 12,000, and the smallest division d'Argenton-les-Vallées 2,000 . The army was not centrally controlled, had no war chest , no cavalry or artillery worth mentioning, and a structure that could hardly be compared with a proper army command. They were able to compensate for their military weakness with unconditional commitment and their religiously based hatred of the Republicans. In June 1793, their leaders committed themselves to joint, but seldom practiced, action and to founding a council, a kind of government, which dissolved after a few months.

Course of war

Beginning of the armed uprising in spring 1793

When the great recruiting was to take place on March 10, 1793, resistance arose in various places in the Vendée. In Saint-Florent-le-Vieil , in today's Maine-et-Loire department , the rebels elected a carter, Cathelineau , and in Niederpoitou (Marais) the former naval officer Charette as their leader.

The National Guardsmen were attacked in Cholet and over 300 are said to have been killed. In Machecoul , a town in the Loire-Atlantique department , the first massacre of 150 captured National Guards took place , which caused the radical Montagnards to demonize the rebels into opponents of the revolution incited by priests.

Within a few days, the places and landscapes of the old provinces of Anjou , Bretagne and Poitou became a theater of war in which peasants and artisans gathered and, mostly in excess, overran the local national guards and troops of the republic.

“Their way of fighting was always the same. Using the hedges and the unevenness of the ground, they surrounded the enemy (meaning Republicans) and were sure to fire from ambushes. As they had thus disordered the Republicans with a terrible fire, they took advantage of the first moment of their dismay, rushed at them with wild cries, overturned their ranks, disarmed them, and struck them down with sticks. […] The rank and file troops were exposed to their fire without being able to reply, because they could neither use their artillery nor make a bayonet attack against an enemy scattered around them. "

The leaders of the revolt replaced the lack of war practice with their precise knowledge of the country. When the nobility joined the uprising, the peasants in it, especially in men like Henri de La Rochejaquelein and Louis de Salgues de Lescure , became militarily experienced leaders.

Le Vendéen , by Julien Le Blant, around 1880

In the summer of 1793, the Vendéer were seen as winners in most fights, because they often terrified the regular troops simply by being outnumbered. On May 5, 20,000 Vendéers of the combined divisions are said to have forced the 5,000 Republicans under a General Quétineau near Thouars ( Département Deux-Sèvres ) to give up without resistance. La Rochejaquelein won a victory at Fontenay-le-Comte on May 25, 1793 and is said to have taken 3,500 prisoners and captured Saumur on June 10 and captured 15,000 rifles and 50 to 80 cannons .

In order to open up more resources, the Vendéer army of 30,000 men, whose commander Cathelineau had been elected , undertook attacks on the city of Nantes from June 25 to 29, 1793 . The city, which had 90,000 inhabitants at the time, was considered by the royalists to be a safe place and port for the delivery of English relief supplies. The unexpected resistance from the National Guard and pro-republican sections of the population demoralized the Vendé army. Their leader, Cathelineau, was fatally wounded and died on July 11th. His successor, Baron d'Elbée, could not hold together the disintegrating mass of fighters. The successful defense of Nantes was seen in Paris as a signal that the Vendée was to be regained for the republic. The Vendéers are said to have withdrawn to their regions of origin, discouraged. The insurrectionary movement became a guerrilla war in the inaccessible landscapes of the Bocage and the Marais Poitevin , waged with mutual success by leaders at odds with one another, against equally disorganized republicans, in which both the radical and the moderate forces of the convention had placed their respective generals and commissioners. "[...] too many representatives, too many departments, too many falsehoods in the reports and too much greed among bosses and officials" were recognized as a problem in Paris.

The trouble spot Vendée, which tied up the military forces urgently needed in the critical places on the Habsburg-Dutch border, the Rhine border and the Eastern Pyrenees, demanded a more consistent approach from Paris.

"'[...] the only means of subjugating this unfortunate country is not to fight it, but to devastate it because its army would be everywhere and nowhere', says the Jacobin side in the Convention."

The Welfare Committee , endowed with the greatest authority, set up an Armée de l'Ouest and subordinated the famous garrison of Mainz (called “Armée de Mayence”) under capable leaders such as Jean-Baptiste Kléber and Aubert du Bayet . At the same time he decreed that the forests should be cut down and the hamlets of the Vendée destroyed by fire, that the chattels, cattle, women and children should be seized and deported twenty-four hours' walk from their place of residence, and that the rebels should confiscate their goods and take them to neighboring houses Provinces the land militias are deployed.

The uprising area in 1793.

Nevertheless, the Vendéers held their own and won between September 5th and 22nd at Chantonnay , Tiffauges , Torfou , Pont-Barré , Montaigu and Saint-Fulgent , among others . The leader of the insurgents from the Marais, Charette, but left this alliance with his army and started a private war in the extreme southwest of the insurrection area. At the beginning of October, the fighting with the rest of the “Catholic and Royal Army” is concentrated in the cities between the South Loire and the Marais Poitevin. The republicans, on the orders of a war commissioner with General Kléber as commander in chief, instead of the incompetent sans-culottes Jean Léchelle , began to encircle this region.

In mid-October 1793, an estimated 40,000 insurgents, some of them with their families "as if prepared to emigrate", gathered again at Cholet. The Republicans won the Battle of La Tremblaye on October 15, 1793, and as a result were able to take the city of Cholet. With around 25,000 men with the participation of almost all generals ordered to the west, they attacked the Vendées again on October 17 in the Second Battle of Cholet so vigorously that they escaped from the fighting in a panic and with great losses their whole entourage crossed the Loire. Their goal was to encourage the uprising in Brittany and to reach the port town of Granville on the border with Normandy across the country . There the British admiral Lord Moira was supposed to land troops and relief supplies for the royalist Vendéer and so give new strength to the counter-revolution. "The move of the sixty thousand north and back to the Loire is one of the most confused processes of this confused war."

Autumn 1793. Virée de Galerne

The trek of rebels, wounded, women, children and the elderly, estimated at 60,000 people, is named in France after "Gwarlan", a Breton dialect word for "violent, changeable wind from the northwest". The train ( Virée de Galerne ) was able to win several places on its zigzag route from rest area to rest area. Chouannerie troops joined them. On October 25, the vanguard of the Republican Army commanded by Westermann and de Beaupuy was defeated in the Battle of Croix-Bataille . The Vendéer under de La Rochejaquelein then came before a Republican counterattack and won the Battle of Entrammes on October 26th, followed by the Battle of Fougères on November 3rd and 4th . The Granville destination was reached in mid-November, but turned out to be an impregnable fortress. The majority of the population were Republican and hostile and the announced British aid did not arrive. Exhausted, suffering from a lack of food and the winter weather, the train returned to the Loire.

Promissory note as compensation for the delivery of supplies to the royalists (here with Stofflet's signature , issued in the name of the French king).

La Rochejaquelein did not want to give up his attacks, when he arrived in Avranches he wanted to march on Cherbourg . 4,000 Republicans under General Tribout tried to relocate the route at Pontorson , but were defeated on November 18 in the Battle of Pontorson . In the battle at Dol , which lasted three days and nights, and the skirmishes at Antrain (November 20, 21 and 22), the rebellious Vendéers were victorious and could have returned to the southern bank of the Loire. However, on December 3, the Vendéers moved to the siege of Angers , but this attack failed like that of Granville, the suburbs were occupied, but could not achieve the goal of taking the fortified inner city without siege equipment. It is said that many women participated in these struggles. Captured weapons and ammunition secured their retreat. The train had meanwhile become a few thousand smaller due to hunger, cold and typhoid and reached Le Mans (December 10th). In the Battle of Le Mans (December 11/13, 1793), 15,000 men, women and children are said to have fallen victim to the republicans in one day and one night in house and street fighting. General Kléber, who saw the site of this massacre a day later, described in 1794 in horror the sight of thousands of corpses of all ages and sexes lying around. General Westermann, who followed the fleeing remnants of the train via Laval to Savenay (→ Battle of Savenay ) and put them down on December 22nd, 1793, triumphed in his report to the convent, “[...] I don't need to blame myself, even one The fall of the Virée de Galerne in December 1793 was seen as the end of the First Civil War in the Vendée. In fact, instead of battles, it continued as a gang war with robberies and mutual reprisals. La Rochejaquelein and other leaders had already moved to the more inaccessible areas of the Vendée before the Le Mans disaster.

The persecution of the Vendéer was continued by military commissioners and revolutionary tribunals. Deserters, prisoners and suspects have been tried and executed or have previously died in custody. In the Maine-et-Loire department alone, between 11,000 and 15,000 imprisoned men, women and children between 6,000 and 7,000 are said to have been executed and around 2,000 died in prisons during the Terreur angevine .

The terror of the Representative en Mission Carrier in Nantes achieved macabre fame in the Loire, with drowning thousands of times by "enemies of the republic".

The genocide in France in 1794. Les colonnes infernales.

The pursuit of the chiefs Charette, La Rochejaquelein, Stofflet, the elimination of their supporters, and actual or only suspicious supporters, was taken over by General Louis-Marie Turreau, the new commander-in-chief of the Western Army from December 1793 . In January 1794 he unsuccessfully proposed an amnesty for the rebels to the convent. A proposal by General Kléber was also rejected to reorganize the region and to only station disciplined troops there to calm the population. Kléber and Marceau left the Vendée and became divisional generals in the Northern Army in Belgium.

The welfare committee meanwhile tightened the orders for devastation, "ensanglatent le pays", for bleeding the Vendée and the deportation of the inhabitants and resettlement with "good sans-culottes". From January to May 1794, twenty columns combed the four departments of Maine-et-Loire , Loire-Inférieure , Vendée and Deux-Sèvres with terrible cruelty reminiscent of the Thirty Years' War .

The unusually brutal punishment, including the application of kin detention , was documented in an order that General Turreau is said to have given:

«[…] Il faut exterminer tous les hommes qui ont pris les armes, et frapper avec eux leurs pères, leurs femmes, leurs sœurs et leurs enfants. La Vendée doit n'être qu'un grand cimetière national. »

“We must destroy all men who took up arms and smashed them with their fathers, their wives, their sisters and their children. The Vendée should be nothing more than a large national cemetery. "

Paris sent radical republican convention representatives with full powers to carry out their decrees and to discipline insecure generals who did not follow orders consistently. The rebellion in the western départements, which could not be ended despite, but possibly because of the reprisals - increasingly also the Chouannerie of Brittany - made the government more willing to make concessions.

The Vendéer were able to mobilize their supporters again in this phase. B. with 40,000 to 70,000 men deliver the Third Battle of Cholet to the Republicans . They conquered various cities, but were mostly only able to hold them for a few hours. General Turreau was suspended in May 1794. His operations had not had the desired effect. The fighting subsided and the civil war seemed to be ending as Republican troops withdrew to their camps. A new general in command (Thomas A. Davy de la Pailleterie called Dumas) refused command of the western armies after an inspection, with 29,814 of 47,887 men on sick leave.

Two new generals, de Canclaux for the Vendée and Lazare Hoche for Brittany, carried out their operations with smaller units (colonnes mobiles) against the insurgents. Your officers were instructed to largely spare the population.

The Jacobin dictatorship came to an end in Paris; the "Terreur" to ward off enemies inside and on the borders had lost its justification after the victory at Fleurus .

In the autumn of 1794, an amnesty was offered to those insurgents in south-west Brittany who lay down their arms. In December this offer of amnesty was extended to the entire insurrection area. The government succeeded in robbing the Catholic and Royal armies of the Vendée of their support. In addition, the republican troops were able to maneuver between the three Vendéer armies of the leaders Charette, Sapinaud and Stofflet and isolate them from one another. In February most of the royalist generals were ready to negotiate peace and signed the Treaty of La Jaunaye on February 13, some clan chiefs of the Chouans in April, and on May 5, 1795 Stofflet was the last to recognize the republic and its laws.

The Second Vendée War. 1795-1796

The execution of Louis XVI. and the expected invasion of a royalist emigre army with English support widespread unrest among the Vendées and the Chouans and there were again armed conflicts, bloody conquests and defenses of places and places, and the massacre of prisoners and wounded on both sides (e.g. Beaulieu, Essarts, Quiberon). The royalist invasion of the Quiberon peninsula was held down by General Hoche in their landing area for 4 weeks before they surrendered at the end of July or fled back to the English ships. ( Battle of Quiberon ) A second invasion at the beginning of October south of the Loire estuary ( Île d'Yeu ) was prevented by the organization and presence of a coast guard of the Hoche army without any significant fighting. The king's brother, the Comte d'Artois , returned to England without having conquered a meter of French soil.

The fight against Charette, who is said to have reunited 15,000 Vendées for the counter-revolution and from his, still exiled King Louis XVIII. appointed generalissimo of the royal armies became the primary target of the republican armies of the west. Hoche became the sole commanding officer with far-reaching powers - including administration. By the summer of 1796, the most important leaders of the uprising had surrendered ( Georges Cadoudal ), or had fallen (Louis Guérin), fled to England (Puisaye), captured, condemned and executed (Charette, Stofflet).

The population was pacified by receiving (often previously confiscated) seeds, livestock and support for reconstruction in exchange for weapons handed over. Help was also given to returning refugees whose property had been looted and destroyed. The government created the “Pacification de la Vendée”, for which General Hoche and the Army of the West were awarded.

Lazare Hoche
probably from the school of Jacques-Louis David , around 1793.
Museum of Western and Oriental Art, Kiev .

The Board announced on 15 July 1796, the end of a bitter civil war, "les troubles dans l'Ouest sont apaisés," the unrest in the West are reassured.

The third war of the Vendée 1798–1800

In autumn 1797 Vendéer and Chouans began again to turn against the republic. They saw the government weakened by the internal power struggles between liberals and radicals, the loss of authority due to economic difficulties and military defeats in the conquered countries. The cancellation of previous elections, the shift to the left in the directorate with a change in his conciliatory attitude and a new wave of persecution against emigrants and priests who refuse oaths, the introduction of compulsory and general conscription - from which the Vendée was previously excluded according to the peace treaty - all of this presumably strengthened the country folk in the West in the belief that they must overthrow the republic. In September 1799, 200 chiefs of the Vendée and Brittany are said to have agreed in the castle La Jonchère (Dép. Vendée) to rise together on October 15th. Again they were divided according to their regions into the armies of Lower Poitou and Pays de Retz, the western Vendée and southern Loire, the Marais and the Anjou.

The republican army in the west, set up as the Armée d'Angleterre , now renamed the Armée de l'Oest , was about 60,000 strong, but initially had problems countering the uprising. The Bretons in particular managed to mobilize thousands of fighters. The commanding generals de Hédouville and Brune had the order from the First Consul Bonaparte to act ruthlessly against war-zealous royalists, but to leave the bulk of the population in peace. On January 18, 1800, Charette's successor, the royalist general Charles Sapinaud de la Rairie, signed a peace treaty. The Chouans accepted a few weeks later. Napoleon had previously shown compliance with a proclamation of religious freedom, but demonstrated uncompromisingness by transferring 30,000 troops to the Vendée.

Rebellions in 1815 and 1832

In 1815, during the reign of the Hundred Days of Napoleon, Vendéer and Chouans saw the opportunity again to restore the old monarchy with an uprising. Between the end of May and mid-July, the Chouans and the imperial troops in particular fought large and small battles on both sides of the lower Loire. The so-called "Little Chouannerie" ended with the return of the Bourbon King Louis XVIII. .

Marie Caroline of Bourbon-Sicily, Duchess of Berry

In 1832 the Duchess of Berry was able to mobilize 20,000 Vendéer and Chouans to fight for the legitimate claim of her son Henri as King Henri V to the French throne. In the departments of Loire-Atlantique , Ille-et-Vilaine and Vendée , fighting between units of the regional gendarmerie, national guard, line troops and the insurgents broke out in May and June 1832. The latter ended their commitment to a hopeless cause when the former Napoleonic General Dermoncourt, who is said to have fought when he stormed the Bastille, advanced with a smaller army and had the Duchess captured.

Recognition as genocide

In contemporary France, historians argue about the interpretation of the destruction of the Vendée in 1794. Among other things, the following letter, which a minister from Nantes had received at the height of the terreur and which he read to the Paris National Convention, is used:

“My friend, I am pleased to announce that the robbers have finally been destroyed. [...] The number of robbers brought here cannot be estimated. New ones arrive every moment. Because the guillotine is too slow and the shooting takes too long and wastes powder and bullets, it was decided to put a certain number in large boats to drive to the middle of the river about half a mile from town, and sink the boat there. This is what is done incessantly. "

This report from the Paris National Assembly appeared on January 2, 1794 in the "Moniteur". Such documents are known to historians in large numbers. General François-Joseph Westermann is said to have reported to the Welfare Committee after the persecution and extermination of Savenay :

«Il n'y a plus de Vendée. Elle est morte sous notre sabre libre, avec ses femmes et ses enfants. Je viens de l'enterrer dans les marais et dans les bois de Savenay. Je n'ai pas un prisonnier à me reprocher. J'ai tout exterminé. »

“There is no longer a Vendée. She died under our bare saber, along with women and children. I buried her in the swamps and woods of Savenay . I cannot be held prisoner. I destroyed everything. "

The insurgents had already lost the civil war in December, even if fighting flared up later. Military victory alone was not enough for the Jacobins. The convention decided to destroy the "Vendée" and on November 7th the department of the same name was renamed "Vengé" ("avenge"). The infrastructure of the region was to be completely destroyed, farms, churches, the crops and the forests burned down, the land and without exception all residents destroyed. General Turreau, head of the "Infernal Columns", who was entrusted with the execution, let it be known: "The Vendée must become a national cemetery."

In the Critical Dictionary of the French Revolution, François Furet called the events the "greatest massacre of the Terreur". Next to the reports of the perpetrators are the memories of the victims like the memoirs of the Comtesse de La Rochejaquelein. It applies to both groups that their statements, which speak of up to 600,000 victims as a result of the war in the Vendée, must be regarded as far exaggerated. According to Reynald Secher, the population of the Vendée decreased by 117,000 inhabitants (from the original 815,000 inhabitants) between 1792 and 1802. The author sees this loss of population as "genocide in the sense of the Nuremberg Trial". His book sparked sharp controversy among the French public and historians. The conclusions drawn by Secher and some other historians, however, easily overlook the fact that from a population decrease, even of this magnitude, it cannot necessarily be concluded that all of these residents perished, also because, for example, no really reliable data is available on refugee flows from the Vendée . For this reason, other estimates suggest that the number of victims in the Vendée is less than half of the above figure, which still makes the dimensions of the murder in the Vendée during the revolutionary era unprecedented.

Even at the time of the revolution, “Vendée” was synonymous with counter-revolution and violent resistance against the national government in other regions: “The Vendée is no longer just the core area of ​​a revolt [...]. The Vendée is everywhere today. "

The interpretation of the French Revolution and, as part of it, the treatment of the Vendée feeds conflicts between regionalists and central state thinkers, Catholics and anti-clericals, right and left in France to this day. The former tend to see genocide. The fate of the Vendée is dealt with in the Black Book of the French Revolution , edited by the Dominican Father Renaud Escande, published by the Catholic publisher Les Editions du Cerf. In the section on “Civil War, Genocide, Memoricide” in the Vendée, a relationship between the extermination campaign in the Vendée and the Shoah is alleged. Reynald Secher, author of this part of the text, opposes the "erasure of memory", which he calls "memoricide". He criticizes other historians who want to "wash the revolution from the blood stain of the Vendée," said Secher. "This negationism goes so far that [...] the existence of the extermination laws, that the drownings, the mass killings, especially of women and children, the extermination ovens [...] are denied." Jean-Clément Martin , professor at the Sorbonne and expert on Vendée Wars, criticized the content. The Napoleon expert Jean Tulard , who works for the “Black Book”, speaks openly of the “genocide”: The events are a planned genocide that was as little a mere “derailment” like the Terreur in its entirety, but “intentionally thought and declared by the revolutionary government. ” Gracchus Babeuf already called the destruction of the Vendée a“ populicide ”.


Tulard claims that this dark side of the French Revolution is kept secret and that research on it is boycotted by an “ideologically” motivated historiography. In the Vendée, however, memory is cultivated. At the instigation of Furet and Le Roy Ladurie, the research center “Center vendéen de Recherches historiques” was founded there in 1994. During the restoration period, the Vendéers had already erected numerous monuments to the leaders of their uprising. Numerous neo-Gothic churches, which today seem oversized for the small communities, were built in the 19th century in place of the houses of worship that were burned down by the revolutionaries as a token of memory.

Every year, against the backdrop of a castle burned down by the revolutionaries, a historical spectacle takes place in Puy du Fou , which traces the history of a Vendée family over 700 years. In 2008 it took place for the 30th time, and in 2007 390,000 spectators came to the event, which is almost exclusively contested by volunteers, whose motivation lies in their identity created during the Vendée Wars. The script was written by the young Philippe de Villiers at the time .


  • Marie Breguet: L'avant-guerre de Vendée. Les questions religieuses à l'Assemblée Législative (octobre 1791 - septembre 1792). Tégui, Paris 2004, ISBN 2-7403-1091-9 .
  • Michael Davies: For Throne and Altar - The Uprising in the Vendée 1793–1796. Bobingen 2015, ISBN 978-3-943858-55-6 .
  • Guy-Marie Lenne: Les réfugiés des guerres de Vendée. 1793-1796. Geste Édition, La Crèche 2003, ISBN 2-84561-100-5 .
  • Reynald Secher: Le génocide franco-français. La Vendée-Vengé. 4th corrected edition. Perrin, Paris 1992, ISBN 2-13-045260-4 .
  • Charles Tilly: The Vendée . 3. Edition. Harvard University Press, Cambridge Mass. / London 1976, ISBN 0-674-93302-8 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Information on the participation and victims of the Vendée Wars in the historical literature and in biographies is varied and must be assessed with regard to the political point of view of the authors.
  2. Th. V. Münchhausen: Call for Destruction , FAZ, September 25, 1993.
  3. ^ RE Reichardt: The blood of freedom. P. 49 ff.
  4. ^ R E. Reichardt: The blood of freedom. P. 55.
  5. Rolf. E. Reichardt: The blood of freedom. P. 51.
  6. Adolphe Thiers : Gesch. d. French Revolution. Volume 2, p. 492 ff.
  7. A. Thiers: Gesch. d. French Revolution. Volume 2, p. 377.
  8. A. Thiers: Gesch. d. French Revolution. Volume 3, p. 150.
  9. A. Thiers: Gesch. d. French Revolution. Volume 3, p. 90.
  10. Th. V. Münchhausen: Call for extermination. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. September 25, 1993.
  11. M. Nitsch Jura: The uprising in the Vendee. P. 26.
  12. ^ Jean-Baptiste Kléber: Mémoires politiques et militaires 1793–1794. P. 330.
  13. The authenticity of this letter is doubted. After the Battle of Savenay there were many refugees who continued the uprising and prisoners who were transferred to Nantes.
  14. The figures for this are based on information from the French wiki article "Guerre de Vendée".
  15. The French Wikipedia page describes more than 15 skirmishes and battles with up to 8,000 insurgents.
  16. ^ Ernst Schulin : The French Revolution. P. 229.
  17. ^ Reynald Secher: Le génocide francco-français. Pp. 243 and 255.
  18. Michael Wagner: The "Genocide in the Vendée". Notes on a French historians' dispute. In: Gunter Thiele (Ed.): Democratization in the French Revolution. Effects on Germany. Analyzes and testimonials, image and music documents. (= Research-Teach-Learn. Contributions from Faculty IV (Social Sciences) of the Heidelberg University of Education, Volume 3). Neckar-Verlag, Villingen-Schwenningen 1990, pp. 162-167.
  19. ^ RE Reichardt quotes François Noël Babeuf in The Blood of Freedom. P. 49 ff.