Along with other areas outside of Paris, the Vendée was becoming more opposed to the revolution and violent. Religion was the first divisive factor causing unrest in the Vendée. The countryside in the Vendée was anti-revolution and in support of the refractory church, but the towns and cities were republican, in support of the revolution. Once the Convention enacted a conscription policy for men to fight in the name of the republic, malcontent in the Vendée was heightened and civil unrest ensued (Shusterman, 182). Peasants initiated military engagements and large peasant armies fought in two different places: Machecoul in the Marais, and Saint-Florent in the Mauges. Led by Charette and Cathalineau, the rebels decided to attack Nantes, the region’s most important city. When the fighting moved from the area around Nantes to the city itself, Cathalineau was shot. The fighting then turned towards the republicans’ advantage, eventually resulting in their victory.
If the Vendéans had succeeded in taking Nantes, they would have become “masters of the situation”(Shusterman, 186), altering the course of the revolution. The event at Nantes shows religion’s strong influence in motivating a counter-revolutionary military campaign. Religion did not play the same role in the Federalist Revolt. The Vendée defeat at Nantes evened out the fighting between the republicans and the counter-revolutionaries, which allowed for the revolution to successfully protect itself and continue in Paris.
William Doyle, The French Revolution: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2001).
Noah Shusterman, The French Revolution: Faith, Desire, and Politics (Routledge, 2014).