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Chouans


Subject History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405189224.2011.x


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Counter-revolutionary insurgents in the northwest of France, active during the period of the french revolution of 1789 and of napoleon i . The name is said to derive from the call of the screech owl, which was used by the rebels as a rallying cry. Historians tend to distinguish between the insurgents involved in the vendée revolt and those supporting Chouan risings elsewhere, though in practice the two tended to fuse. The Chouans, who were mainly peasants, certainly fought in defense of catholicism and fatherland. But chouannerie also reflected a wider discontent with the revolution's failure to satisfy demands for land reform or to alleviate rural poverty, and with its heavier burdens of government. The insurgency was sparked by the imposition of conscription in 1793. Peasants resented efforts to make them fight in defense of a revolution which had given them nothing. The ruthless use of the army by Napoleon brought chouannerie under control but did not eradicate the problem, and the insurgency flared up again in 1815 in response to the emperor's attempts to levy men for what turned out to be his final battles (see also hundred days ). ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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