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.Share
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.