Vendee and Federalist Revolts

The Vendée, an affluent region located on the Western coast of France, was a deeply conservative and counter-revolutionary section of the nation. The Vendée resented the superiority and direction of Paris, and most were effectively royalist in their political leanings.

More than 90% of local priests in the region were non-juring, meaning they had not sworn the Clerical Oath, and much of the local peasantry felt that the benefits of the Revolution were heavily skewed to favour the bourgeoisie. As such, there were formal, armed uprisings and revolts against the Revolution starting from 9 October 1791, which continued until late1793. They became especially aggressive following the conscription efforts of the government in the face of the extended war, with it developing into a full counter-revolution where local nobles and bishops mobilised a Catholic and Royal Army of the West. It was the main area where counter-revolutionary sentiment and activity bred and posed real threat to the Revolution, especially in 1793 when France was already in a weakened international position against 5 enemy nations.

There were also Federalist revolts following the expulsion of the Girondin Government from June 1793, where many regional cities such as Lyon, Bordeaux and Marseille rose up against what they perceived to be a centralised governing power in Paris. This constituted a serious internal threat, especially when locals in these towns openly welcomed invading forces such as those from Britain, onto French land. The Federalist revolts were dealt with by the National Convention in an aggressive manner, going to the extent that in October 1793 they declared that “Lyon is no more” and ordered the execution of almost 2000 Lyonnais rebels as a deterrent for further counter-revolution1.

The Vendéen rebellion also fostered the Chouan royalist revolts in late 1793, which drew support from 22,000 people around 12 départments (regions) along the Western coast acting as guerrilla forces, wearing the Bourbon white. The Chouan revolts were very violent and marked a substantive civil military threat from the enemies within.

The Vendée and Chouan rebellions, and the Federalist revolts, were all well and truly suppressed by the end of 1793.


See Also

Civil Constitution of the Clergy

Clerical Oath

  1. Fenwick, J & Anderson, J. Liberating France. p.156