Civil War in the VendeeWatch
The extensive historiography on the Vendée reveals the wars’ significance and popularityfor studies of the French Revolution. Until recently, historiography of the French Revolution hasemphasized its continuity and impact on the present. For the Marxist historians, there is a direneed to explain the Vendée as anachronistic reaction in the context of the inevitable socialconflict and the rise of the bourgeoisie. Marxist interpretations emphasize extreme religiosityand royalist sentiment to portray the counter*-revolution as a backwards anomaly.3 But in thewake of Furet and post*Marxist interpretations of the Revolution, closer examinations haverevealed the Vendean conflict to be far more complex. Charles Tilly’s detailed study found asomewhat prosperous and independent peasantry in the West growing increasingly distrustful ofa strengthening bourgeoisie or ‘urban’ influence.4 Traditionally suspicious of reform, the ruralpeasantry appear to have been agitated as much by the threat of socio*economic reform as by theCivil Constitution of Clergy and Levée en Masse.5 Thus, socio*economic origins have come tothe forefront against traditional perspectives of the Vendée as an ideological conflict.
3 Claude Petitfrère, “The Origins of the Civil War in the Vendée,” French History 2, no. 2 (June 1988): 189‐191.
4 Charles Tilly, The Vendée (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1966), 340.
5 Petitfrère, 192‐193; David Andress, The French Revolution and the People (London: Hambledon & London, 2004),195.