Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Les Chouans

Above is a picture of a Breton chouan, one of the many peasants in the northwest of France who revolted against the French Revolution, in a movement known as the chouannerie. Balzac wrote a novel describing the heroism of the guerrilla warriors. Catherine Delors has an article on the legendary freedom fighters.
First the name comes from one of the early leaders of the insurgency, Jean Cottereau, nicknamed Jean Chouan (left). Chouan was a colorful character, already in trouble with the law years before the French Revolution for, among other misdeeds, killing a tax collector. Then the Revolution brought many changes.
The Constitution Civile du Clergé required priests and nuns to pledge allegiance to the new Constitution of the kingdom, a step many considered a violation of their religious vows. Then King Louis XVI was guillotined on the 21st of January 1793. The war against the Austrians and their Prussian allies was off to a disastrous start. Soon the French armies were outnumbered, requiring the legislative body that ruled the country to decree a draft. That was the real trigger for the insurgency.

Peasants from the western provinces, already outraged by the persecution of their priests and the execution of their King downright refused to go die in faraway lands for a Republic they loathed. Fight they would, but against it, and from home.
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12 comments:

de Brantigny said...

Excellent.

Doue ha mem Bro (Breton) Dieu et mon Pays.

Mim Ramirez said...

I suppose we may appear eccentric, but my husband and I have a flag of the Army of the Sacred Heart flying year 'round at our house in New Orleans.

elena maria vidal said...

Sounds good to me....

de Brantigny said...

That is not a bad Idea

Catherine Delors said...

Thank you for making the Chouans better known, Elena!
They play an important part in my second novel, and the name still elicits blank stares in many!

elena maria vidal said...

Catherine, I am so looking forward to reading it!

xavier said...

Maria Elena:
Interesting. I'm quite familiar with the Vendéee but was totally unware of the Breton rebellion

xavier

elena maria vidal said...

They revolted over at Lyon, too. Quite a number of people were killed.

Georgette said...

Wasn't it the Chouannerie that were depicted less than flatteringly, in Hugo's novel, Ninety-three? I would love to read your take on that novel some time, Elena.

elena maria vidal said...

Haven't read the novel by Hugo but in Madame Delors new novel FOR THE KING there are examples of les chouans behaving badly.

elena maria vidal said...

War is ugly and each side had people who were no damn good.

lara77 said...

May the memory of those brave men never be forgotten in France. They gave their lives for God, King and country.