Vendée

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The Vendée (French pronunciation: [vɑ̃ˈde]) is a department in the Pays-de-la-Loire region in west central France, on the Atlantic Ocean. The name Vendée is taken from the Vendée river which runs through the south-eastern part of the department.

Contents

History

The area today called the Vendée was originally known as the Bas-Poitou and is part of the former province of Poitou. In the south-east corner, the village of Nieul-sur-l'Autise is believed to be the birthplace of Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204) and was part of her kingdom. Eleanor's son, Richard I of England (the Lionheart) often had his base in Talmont. The Hundred Years' War (1337-1453) turned much of the Vendée into a battleground.

Since the Vendée held a considerable number of influential Protestants, including control by Jeanne d'Albret, the region was greatly affected by the French Wars of Religion which broke out in 1562 and continued until 1598. Eventually King Henri IV issued the Edict of Nantes and the Wars came to an end. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 caused many Huguenots to flee from the Vendée.

It is also remembered as the place where the peasants revolted against the Revolutionary government in 1793. They resented the changes imposed on the Roman Catholic Church by the Civil Constitution of the Clergy (1790) and broke into open revolt in defiance of the Revolutionary government's military conscription. A guerrilla war, known as the Revolt in the Vendée, led at the outset by an underground faction called the Chouans (tawny owls), cost more than 100,000 lives before it ended in 1796.

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