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Paola Irene Galli Mastrodonato, Counter-Revolution or Resistance? Representing Vendée in Fiction, from Charlotte Corday to Daphne Du Maurier


Counter-Revolution or Resistance?

Representing Vendée in Fiction, from Charlotte Corday to Daphne Du Maurier

Paola Irene Galli Mastrodonato

Università della Tuscia – Viterbo

            A recent pronunciation of the International Court of Justice in the Hague has decreed that during the 1991-1995 fratricide war in former Yugoslavia between the Serbs and the Croatians, no accusation of genocide is able to stand on anyone’s side. Despite claims from Belgrade of 6500 Serbians dead and more than 200 000 forced to leave the Krajina province, and counter-accusations from Zagreb of 13 500 Croatians killed by Serbian war lords, the final resolution calls for mutual understanding and a peaceful sponge wiping away all left over resentments[1].

            Could this happen with the Vendée question nowadays? Are times ripe for a similar verdict? I shall try to stage a virtual debate using novels, fictions and narrations as part of the evidence in the ongoing discourse on what actually happened in the western part of France known as the Vendée in the period 1793-1800. We shall have as witnesses a host of famous writers – Balzac, Dumas, Du Maurier – and lesser-known ones, such as Craik, Henty, and Mrs. Inchbald.

            We can surely say that right from the start the legitimization for insurgency against the revolutionary government in Paris is given, in fiction, by two outstanding leading characters: Marat and Louis XVI, or, to be more precise, the death by the guillotine of the king of France. In what I have described as the “reducing procedure” affecting early narrations relating the revolutionary events, all the distinct phases of the decade are reduced to the Terror of 1793 and 1794, and this in turn is reduced to one single character, Robespierre, who personifies the essence of all that is evil and mischievous, in other words a “monstre sanguinaire[2]. On the other hand, various aristocrats fiercely oppose the Convention and its Jacobin members, whose efforts to impose the Constitution of An I as the expression of the people’s will are described as villainous acts belonging to “une poignée de brigands” leading a “vile populace[3]. Ideologically, this results in a first cluster of signifiers transforming the revolutionary peuple into a criminal mob and the illustrious royal victims into martyrs, at the same time glorifying the noble émigrés who leave a country which is no longer the true France.

            In an early rendering of the revolutionary events in Paris, Elizabeth Inchbald has a character in her play The Massacre (1792) describe what is happening inside the jails: “The report that’s brought speaks of children torn from the breast of their mothers, husbands from the arms of their wives, and aged parents from the agonizing families”[4], while Sister Theresa in the anonymous Julia St. Pierre, A Tale of the French Revolution relates to the frightened nuns in her convent that “at the present moment anarchy and bloodshed reign in the once tranquil streets of Paris”[5]. By 1800, when the first complete narrations on Vendée begin to appear, two wars have already been waged by the Convention against the insurgent regions in the West of France and Napoleon Bonaparte has started his rise to power. Within this general historical framework, British opinion is especially sensitive to news coming from the other side of the Channel, and Gothic novelist Helen Craik writes in four volumes the melancholy story of aristocratic Adelaide de Narbonne and her confident Charlotte “de Cordet” who live secluded in the family château in Vendée. During the long hours spent together, letters arrive from Paris relating “the anarchy which prevailed, and the atrocities that were committed in the metropolis; but pre-eminently wicked above the rest, appeared the sanguinary proceedings of the bloody Robespierre and the no less infamous Marat”[6]. Soon it appears clear to the soon-to-be murderer of the “Ami du Peuple”    that all past, present and future evil doings suffered by the haughty aristocrat are due to the unending cruelty of a single villain whose crimes must be avenged. Thus Charlotte feels that her “private” reasons justify her “historic” mission: “deliver her unhappy country from the galling yoke of a monster, who was equally a disgrace to mankind, and the nation to which he belonged”[7].

            In Craik’s elaborate plot Marat loses his revolutionary identity and becomes a Gothic villain, acting on behalf of the cynical Baron de Verney, a dissolute exponent of the Ancien Régime imposed on Adelaide as husband by her despotic father. Thus Marat kills in an ambush Adelaide’s secret lover, the noble St. Hypolite, unchaining the usual sequence of events proper to mystery novels while at the same time Craik employs a Vendéan setting. We find Charette leading the royalist army alongside the fictive St. Julian, whom we discover to be Adelaide’s long lost son, and back in Paris there is an attempt at flight from the prison in the Temple and l’Abbaye of Madame Elizabeth and a certain Princess Victorine, supposed daughter of Emperor Joseph II, who will then rejoin and marry St. Julian in the safe haven of English emigration.

Some important common places in narrating the Vendée already stand out in Helen Craik’s novel. The murder of Marat by Charlotte Corday is not considered a crime but only the just punishment for all the evil he has done; inasmuch it becomes the first act of heroic resistance against Republican and revolutionary oppression[8]. Young aristocrats are seen as the natural leaders of the revolt that is gaining speed especially from 1793 onwards, with the execution of the king and queen of France, symbols of martyrdom, while the English sympathize greatly with the émigrés that reach their shores. It is interesting to note that here Marat, a sincere democrat if ever there was one, is seen plotting with corrupt members of the aristocracy, due to the fact, according to Craik, that they all belonged to the “school of modern philosophy”[9] considered the sole responsible for the Revolution itself.

A strange fate in fiction indeed for one of the leading personalities of the French Revolution: not only Marat was killed by treason while lying completely defenseless in his bathtub, but in early 1789 he had foreseen prophetically the outcome of the struggle between the revolutionary government representing the totality of the Nation and the opposing factions representing vested interests. In Offrande à la patrie, ou Discours au Tiers-État de France he qualifies the high clergy and the aristocracy as “enemies” ready to plunge the country in the “horrors of a civil war” rather than renounce their privileges[10]. By 1795, when military intervention in the Atlantic regions is over two years long, Gracchus Babeuf defines with the term “Vendée plébéienne” what is at stake for the Republic: “Qu’est-ce qu’une révolution politique en général ? Qu’est-ce, en particulier, que la Révolution française ? Une guerre déclarée entre les patriciens et les plébéiens, entre les riches et les pauvres”[11]. It is around this apparent contradiction, the poor waging war alongside the rich against their own people, that the discourse on La Vendée finds its excruciating meaning and its deep, painfully contemporary significance.

In the novels I shall examine, two are set in the first wake of insurgence, while Les Chouans traces the last phase in Bretagne in 1800, and Dumas focuses on Machecoul around 1832 and its prologue at the time of Charette’s defeat. This is how Daphne Du Maurier has her first person narrator, Sophie Busson Duval, now eighty in 1844, remember those early days of struggle and rebellion:

What a moment to bring a child into the world, that summer of ’93, the first year of the Republic; with the Vendée in revolt, the country at war, the traitorous Girondins endeavouring to bring down the Convention, the patriot Marat to be assassinated by an hysterical girl, the unhappy ex-Queen Marie-Antoinette confined in the Temple and later guillotined for all the misery she had brought upon France[12].

On the opposite side of the barricades, so to speak, popular British novelist George Alfred Henty writes in the Prologue to his story:

In the world’s history there is no more striking example of heroic bravery and firmness than that afforded by the people of the province of Poitou, and more especially the portion of it known as La Vendée, in the defence of their religion and their rights as free men[13].

Closer to the events he was narrating, but related to a later phase of the insurgency, is Balzac’s Les Chouans which appeared for the first time in 1829. Here is how the great novelist introduces the matter of his tale of fiction:

Aussi, fut-ce à la voix de ce prêtre que des milliers d’hommes se ruèrent sur la République, et que ces parties de la Bretagne fournirent cinq ans avant l’époque à laquelle commence cette histoire, des masses de soldats à la première chouannerie. […] Mais les insurrections de ces campagnes n’eurent rien de noble, et l’on peut dire avec assurance que si la Vendée fit du brigandage une guerre, la Bretagne fit de la guerre un brigandage. La proscription des princes, la religion détruite ne furent pour les Chouans que des prétextes de pillage, et les événements de cette lutte intestine contractèrent quelque chose de la sauvage âpreté qu’ont les moeurs en ces contrées[14].

There is no longer the Convention in Paris with its blood reeking Jacobin leaders, on the contrary a stronghold on central power is assured by Napoleon’s first Consulship. As a fictional consequence, a complete redistribution of narrative typologies ensues. Here the chouans are not the leading characters of the story, but they become in a sense the oxymoron defining the wars of the Vendée as a whole. Being the representatives of a wild portion of civilized France, they signify the banditry associated to a part in a civil strife (the aristocracy and the refractaire clergy) which is destined to lose in the end. In a similar way, the war waged by the Bourbons of Naples and Sicily together with the clergy in Southern Italy during the Italian Risorgimento depended heavily on the peasant masses mobilized by popular leaders belonging to the briganti[15].

Thus Marche-à-terre is a true brigand leader, with long hair covering his face and a goat’s skin enveloping his strong body which moves about with “l’agilité d’un animal sauvage”, carrying the signs of his occult power – “son énorme fouet” – through which he imposes a reign of terror on all the inhabitants of the region[16]. He is firmly devoted to the cause of restoring the monarchy and the sacred religion which have both been trampled under by the devilish Blues, the enemy sent by the government in Paris to crush resistance in “le pays des Gars[17]. The plot itself revolves around two main characters belonging to opposed factions: Mlle de Verneuil, the illegitimate daughter of a duke and the former lover of Danton, sent to Bretagne as a spy by Fouché, and the marquis de Montauran, alias “le Gars”, the young royalist leader supposed to organize military intervention with the help of a colorful assembly of nostalgic aristocrats and mostly through the support of the fierce gangs of chouans. The fictional common place of the “star crossed lovers” is here placed within a referential system that assigns positive values to both contending fields: while “le Gars” is a charming youth that conveys, although an “émigré”, “une gracieuse image de la noblesse française”, commander Hulot, the veteran of many battles, “offrait à son tour une image vivante de cette énergique République pour laquelle ce vieux soldat combattait”[18]. In the midst of it all, Marie de Verneuil plays the tragic role of a Charlotte Corday in the reverse: she travels from Paris to the insurgent Bretagne in order to discover, detain and eventually kill the royalist chief hiding under a nickname, but in the process she falls in love and finally dies with her pretended victim. Around le Gars and Marie a savage and terrible war is being waged, where a nephew (young corporal Gudin) takes sides against his uncle (a “gros ecclésiastique” fighting alongside the royalists)[19], and an influential female leader, the aristocratic Mme du Gua (also known as “la jument de Charette” on the Republican side and as “la Grande Garce” among her devoted chouans), displays all her “esprit infernal”[20] in trying to bring about the separation of the two lovers. Moreover, the devious Corentin follows closely on Marie’s footsteps as Fouché’s secret agent and represents the rising bourgeoisie trying to come to terms with the greatness of the past and the new order that is replacing it.

Two episodes stand out: the massacre of the Blues at the château de la Vivetière, and the execution of Galope-chopine by his fellow chouans. Falsely ensnared into a trap, the whole Republican guard that was accompanying Mlle de Verneuil on a parley with the insurgents inside the castle, together with its two heroic officers, Merle and Gérard, are taken by surprise and killed by Marche-à-terre and his gang: “[…] il montra l’escorte entière des Bleus couchée sur la litière ensanglantée, où les Chouans achevaient les vivants, et dépouillaient les morts avec une incroyable célérité”[21]. Later on in the story, Galope-chopine is unjustly suspected of conniving with the enemy and of having revealed to Hulot the hiding place of le Gars; the sentence administered by Marche-à-terre and Pille-miche could not be more exemplary:

Les deux Chouans saisirent de nouveau Galope-chopine, le couchèrent sur le banc, où il ne donna plus d’autres signes de résistance que ces mouvements convulsifs produits par l’instinct de l’animal; enfin il poussa quelques hurlements sourds qui cessèrent aussitôt que le son lourd du couperet eut retenti. La tête fut tranchée d’un seul coup. Marche-à-terre prit cette tête par une touffe de cheveux, sortit de la chaumière, chercha et trouva dans le grossier chambranle de la porte un grand clou autour duquel il tortilla les cheveux qu’il tenait, et y laissa pendre cette tête sanglante à laquelle il ne ferma seulement pas les yeux[22].

An emblematic image of cruel bloodshed this time in the reverse (the royalist partisans and not the sans culottes), signifying the horrors of a civil war whose touching epilogue is given by the minuscule little son of the butchered Galope-chopine vowed to vengeance by his mother, Barbette, who wipes his small foot with his father’s blood:

            Ote ton sabot, dit la mère à son fils. Mets ton pied là-dedans. Bien. Souviens-toi toujours, s’écria-t-elle d’un son de voix lugubre, du soulier de ton père, et ne t’en mets jamais un aux pieds sans te rappeler celui qui était plein du sang versé par les Chuins, et tue les Chuins[23].

            In Daphne Du Maurier’s family saga retracing her own autobiographical origins deriving from a famous pre-revolutionary firm of master glass-blowers in Vendôme region, the Revolution first and the insurrection in Vendée later on, are seen as part of an ongoing historical process uniting or separating brothers from sisters, sons from fathers, parents from children. Thus, Sophie’s mother, Magdaleine, carries on the ancient traditional values of her artisan class (hard labour, innate honesty, attachment to her husband’s trade, a certain ambition), while her brothers diversify deeply both in their life choices and in their beliefs. Already in the immediate aftermath of Revolution, during the terrible winter of 1789, Pierre and Michel, together with François, Sophie’s soon to be husband, pledge allegiance to a Masonic club in Le Mans[24], while Robert, the eldest, has taken sides with the duke of Orléans in Paris, where he is trying to set up a glass factory. Edmé, the youngest sister, first marries a rich merchant but then leaves him when it becomes clear that he will never accept the new revolutionary order, enthusiastically embraced by his young wife. Robert marries and has a son, Jacques, but at the death of his wife during childbirth, decides, after suffering several financial reverses, to emigrate to England, where he hopes to start anew in the glass trade. He leaves Jacques behind with his grandmother and cuts all relations with the rest of the family. Years later he is able to return and Sophie learns that he has left in England a new wife and five young children who all believe him to be a rich emigrated nobleman, owner of a castle in the (inexistent!) du Maurier feud.

            Great is the distance between the two brothers: Robert, the émigré considered a traitor, and Michel, the leader of the National Guard in the district, while Pierre, an altruistic lawyer that tries to put into practice rousseauistic ideals, mediates between the two extremes. Then January 1793 brings the death of “Louis Capet” and the Bussons from their glass factory in the Gironde read the news in the Ami du Peuple and fret for the fate of Robespierre and especially for the “journalist Marat” who acts as a true patriot in defending the rights of the people suffering from food shortages. Soon the Republic is surrounded by “enemies” and threatened by “traitors”, thousands of men and women who regardless of the danger affecting the whole Nation, “lanciavano una rivolta nell’ovest e scatenavano la guerra civile”[25]. The rebel groups of Vendéans made up of peasants and ci-devant aristocrats with their fanatic church leaders were considered as the “bandits” expected since the “Grande Peur”, they destroyed, pillaged and ruthlessly killed women, children and any priest who had pledged allegiance to the Constitution, with a sort of “brutality” unequaled even by mob violence in Paris[26].

            Completely opposite to Du Maurier’s is Henty’s point of view on the first Vendée rebellion. Seen through the eyes of fourteen year old Leigh Stansfield that accompanies his sister Patsey to Bretagne when she marries Jean Martin, a small land owner with a château, Henty describes all the phases of the rising, from “the king’s death” to the early rallying around the sound of “church bells” and the first leaders of the insurrection, Lescure, Charette, D’Elbée and especially Cathelineau and La Rochejaquelein, who was so “tall, and remarkably handsome” that “his appearance was far more English than French”[27]. On the Republican side, although General Berruyer’s “old soldiers” are well trained and “fought well”[28], the Blues are nevertheless reduced to a bunch of sans-culottes taking orders from “the gang of murderers” that rules in Paris[29], while at the outcome of every battle, like in the case of Saumur, the Vendéans, and especially “the peasants”, always display “great moderation” in treating the surrendered enemy[30]. As in Du Maurier’s novel, the Vendée is seen as a struggle separating family members, and Jean’s brother Jacques is “one of the leading members of [the] Jacobin club” in Nantes, a “Brutus” that holds “Saint-Just as his model”, unwavering in doing the “butcher’s work” to the point of consigning his own father to imprisonment in the horrifying revolutionary jails[31].

            On the other hand, the two British novelists diverge deeply on the sense itself of the Vendéan conflict. The case of the taking of Le Mans is exemplary: while for Henty the retreat towards the Loire by the eighty thousand partisans of the royal army is seen as a rightful occupation of homes and property in order “to find food, fire, and shelter”[32], in Du Maurier’s dramatic rendering of those two days of fear and havoc we witness deliberate acts of violence carried out against the population by an undisciplined “mob” in rags and wooden clogs, led by an officer wearing the “hated white cockade” that shouted orders in an unknown language. A group of Vendéans settles in Pierre’s home, where Sophie, Edmé and Émile, a young teenage nephew, are brutally confronted by a priest wearing the emblem with the Sacred Heart on his chest and carrying a gun with a rosary in his belt, and by an aristocratic lady, elegantly dressed in green under her military styled jacket, who demands haughtily a room for herself, visibly shunning away from the wounded and the sick hastily crammed together. After having used up the family’s scant food supplies and having drunk all the wine, the group noisily departs leaving the house in shambles and the dying abandoned to themselves, with the lady piling on a cart the clothes and the wedding presents belonging to Émile’s mother, while Sophie recalls the pillaged castle of Charbonnière during the early phase of the Revolution and wonders if the inhabitants then felt “the same thing”. Edmé thinks that now it is different, she feels that “she could not hate more” the Vendéan invaders. When the Blues with General Westermann enter into Le Mans routing the “bandits”, the epilogue is devastating for all: the National Guards chase men, women and children “cutting them in half with their sabers”, while young Émile dies wounded by a stray bullet under Pierre’s eyes, his idealistic father[33].

            In the eight volume historical novel Les louves de Machecoul by Alexandre Dumas, published in 1858, we can witness the last remains of what the Vendéan wars have left behind. By 1832 when the main action of the story takes place, the church bell summoning the nobles plotting alongside Petit-Pierre, the disguised duchesse de Berry, to restore to power as the legitimate heir to the French crown her son Henri V, “semblait avoir perdu toute sa puissance”[34]. The main characters in Dumas’s intricate plot are the offspring of the first wake of insurgence in Bretagne and belong to the two opposite factions of Restoration France: the old legitimists and the new parvenus, as represented by the marquis de Souday with his two twin daughters, Bertha and Mary, the “she-wolves”, on one side, and young baron Michel de la Logerie, son of the enriched chouan that had betrayed Charette at the time of his capture by the Blues in 1796, on the other. Daughters of a simple English girl whom the marquis had met and secretly married while an émigré and who had died at childbirth, Bertha and Mary resemble the forgotten nephew Mathurin Busson du Maurier whom Sophie meets many years later, all children of the great revolutionary upheaval and its tormented aftermath. In the same way, Michel Busson Challoir, Sophie’s “fanatic” brother, acquires a title for himself through the requisition of private property, just like the traitor Michel that is sent as a spy by General Rossignol among the royalists and then with the prize of his betrayal acquires a castle and adds to his name a fancy title.

The plot then develops around the unhappy love affair opposing Bertha to Mary since they both love the young baron Michel. He in turn is betrothed by Petit-Pierre to Bertha through a misunderstanding but truly loves Mary, and to be near her Michel abandons his belief that “there is no more Vendée” and it is therefore useless to conspire with a group of nostalgic aristocrats against the status quo, to which Bertha answers that it is a mere question of “noblesse oblige[35]. But perhaps most significant in Dumas’s novel is the chouan Jean Oullier, whose “simple greatness” renders him an unforgettable character[36]. He is the one who avenges Charette’s betrayal by the fellow chouan turned baron, and raises the two Souday girls as his own daughters, teaching them the deep ancestral knowledge of the Breton land and its traditions, turning them into “she-wolves”, as they are called by the village gossip that does not accept their independence and expertise in men’s business, such as hunting and horseback riding. It is still Oullier that watches over the twins and their beloved young Michel when they become involved in the duchesse de Berry’s conspiracy, another interesting borderline character, a courageous lady disguised as a peasant boy that leads her followers into battle. Again, we find families separated by different allegiances, such as the brothers Picaut, Jacques for the nostalgic Vendéans, and Pascal, for the Republican side, and we also find devious characters such as Courtin, an ancient chouan that has become mayor and wants to turn in Petit-Pierre in exchange for a money prize.

The final comment is unequivocal: although Jean Oullier and the other fellow chouans, such as old Tinguy and the grotesque couple made up by the gigantic idiot Trigaud-la-Vermine with the handicapped Aubin Courte-Joie hunched on his back, still express “la guerre de partisan” in all its drama and grandeur, it is clear that “la guerre civile sera bientôt impossible en France”[37], thus assigning to the Vendée a connotation that makes it an armed struggle on both sides, and not an act of deliberate massacre carried out by only one against another.

Very different is Henty’s comment on the first wake of the rebellion: “[…] had England, at this time, landed twenty thousand troops in Brittany, or La Vendée, the whole course of events in Europe would have been changed, the French Revolution would have been crushed before it became formidable to Europe, and countless millions of money and millions of lives would have been saved”[38]. So his main character, the English boy Leigh, takes sides and all along his adventures with the insurgents he can very well identify the enemy in the Republicans and in no way there is another “version” to the story, it is definitely a holy crusade that is being carried on by La Rochejaquelein, while on the other side the “colonnes infernales” adopt a search-and-destroy war tactic.

Where can we draw a line? Interestingly enough, it is mostly the English that have dwelt with the Vendée as a subject for their fictions, and both Helen Craik’s and Henty’s attitude is one of outright condemnation of the Revolutionary government and of praise for the rebellion that is seen as a just war waged to save the essential values of a monarchic France[39]. On the other hand, Daphne du Maurier recognizes all the consequences that a conflict between “brothers” and “sisters” can engender, and how far and deep the horrors of a civil war can reach into the consciousness of each one.

Balzac and Dumas also feel that in Vendée, and especially in Bretagne, a ravaging civil war was fought within a nation that had somehow to find a unity of intent, like le Gars and Marie dying into each other’s arms, and Mary and Michel that finally marry. Impressive remains in both novelists the portraiture of the wild and reckless spirit of the chouans, freedom fighters that carry on the rich tradition of a tame less people.

As a final remark, our authors do not act as “witnesses” of a “populicide historique” or genocide in the Vendée, but through their fictions they represent it “par le « témoignage second » des polémiques mémorielles”, as Jean-Marie Grassin has aptly defined in various occasions:

Elle [la Vendée] ne cesse d’engendrer une « histoire » dans les deux sens du terme, à la fois comme « mise en récit » d’événements complexes et comme « anamnèse » d’un passé douloureux, une sorte de « méta-histoire ». De cas en cas, le schéma général qui en émerge tend à se constituer en « modèle interprétatif »[40].


[1] “Balcani, ‘assolte’ Serbia e Croazia. L’ONU: non commisero genocidio”, Corriere della Sera on-line, 3 febbraio 2015.

[2] Paola I. Galli Mastrodonato, “Roman et histoire: la typologie populaire en 1800”, Révolution française, peuple et littératures, André Peyronie ed., Paris: Klincksieck, 1991, p. 140. The quotation is from Irma, ou les Malheurs d’une jeune orpheline (1800), by Élisabeth Guénard, baronne de Méré.

[3] Irma, in Ibid., p. 141.

[4] Paola I. Galli Mastrodonato, “Letteratura e Rivoluzione francese: emergenze e spostamenti nella rappresentazione storica (1789-1800)”, Discorso fizionale e realtà storica, Hans-Georg Grüning ed., Ancona: Edizioni Nuove Ricerche, 1992, p. 179.

[5] Ibid. Apparently, the text from which I quoted in my earlier essay is no longer assigned to Helen Craik, who had published a novel in three volumes with the same title for the Minerva press in 1796, but it is a 1848 chapbook reproduction of “a novella based on J.C. Cross’s dramatic spectacle Julia of Louvain; or Monkish Cruelty, first performed at the Royal Circle Theatre in Southwark, 1797”; see Adriana Craciun, “The New Cordays: Helen Craik and British Representations of Charlotte Corday, 1793-1800”, in Rebellious Hearts: British Women Writers and the French Revolution, Adriana Craciun, Kari E. Lokke eds., Albany: State University of New York, 2001, n. 4 p. 224.

[6] Paola I. Galli Mastrodonato, “Letteratura e Rivoluzione francese”, p. 180. The quotation is from Adelaide de Narbonne, with Memoirs of Charlotte de Cordet (1800), by Helen Craik.

[7] Adelaide de Narbonne, in Paola I. Galli Mastrodonato, “Roman et histoire”, p. 142.

[8] Adriana Craciun in her essay on Helen Craik and “the New Cordays”, while stating at first that “Charlotte Corday became a figure of contradictory political significance” (p. 194), she then defines her as a “truly revolutionary heroine” being portrayed as an “avowed republican” (p. 196) in the novel, although all main sympathetic characters are “royalist” and the “chief villains are Marat and Robespierre”.

[9] Adelaide de Narbonne, in Paola I. Galli Mastrodonato, “Letteratura e Rivoluzione francese”, p. 180.

[10] Jean-Paul Marat, Offrande à la patrie, ou Discours au Tiers-État de France, Paris: Au Temple de la Liberté, 1789, p. 32.

[11] Gracchus Babeuf, “Tribun du Peuple”, 15 brumaire an IV; in Introduzione (par Gastone Manacorda), Filippo Buonarroti, Cospirazione per l’eguaglianza, detta di Babeuf, Torino: Einaudi, 1982, p. XVI.

[12] Daphne Du Maurier, The Glass-Blowers, (orig. 1963; Hachette Digital 2004); I shall also refer to the Italian translation, Il calice di Vandea, Milano: Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, 1964, pp. 13-14.

[13] George Alfred Henty, No Surrender! A Tale of the Rising in La Vendée, London: Blackie and Son Limited, (1900).

[14] Honoré de Balzac, Les Chouans, Paris: Gallimard, 1972, p. 41.

[15] See Mario Monti, I briganti italiani, Milano: Longanesi, 1959. After the unification of Italy, the Savoia government from Piedmont had imposed a severe repression of Southern brigandage, fringing, according to some recent studies (Salvatore Nigro 2010), on a sort of ethnic cleansing of entire communities. In the early 1800’s, General Manhès, during Murat’s brief governorship, had already successfully contained the phenomenon in a wild region of Southern Italy not dissimilar from the French Vendée: “Ma il grande incendio del brigantaggio covava nelle Calabrie. L’indole passionata, tenace, fiera, vendicativa, di quegli abitanti, la vicinanza della Sicilia, donde continuamente muovevano gl’incentivi alla sollevazione, la natura selvaggia de’ luoghi, i boschi, le Sile, gli aspri monti, la prossimità del mare dove si ritrovava scampo sulle navi inglesi, tutto ciò aveva apparecchiato colà una delle guerre più atroci che si sappiano”; Memorie autografe del Generale Manhès intorno à briganti, compilate da Francesco Montefredine, Napoli: Stamperia de’ Fratelli Morano, 1861, p. 32.

[16] Balzac, pp. 118-119.

[17] Ibid., p. 37.

[18] Ibid., p. 65.

[19] Ibid., p. 85.

[20] Ibid., p.147.

[21] Ibid., 227.

[22] Ibid., p. 413.

[23] Ibid., p. 416.

[24] Du Maurier, Il calice di Vandea, p. 121.

[25] Ibid., pp. 266-67: “launched a revolt in the west and unchained a civil war”, my translation.

[26] Ibid., p. 268.

[27] Henty, p. 117.

[28] Ibid., p. 121.

[29] Ibid., p. 202.

[30] Ibid., p. 161.

[31] Ibid., pp. 185-191.

[32] Ibid., p. 258.

[33] Du Maurier, Il calice di Vandea, ch. XVI, pp. 280-300.

[34] Alexandre Dumas, Les louves de Machecoul, Paris: Michel Lévy Frères, 1870, t. 3, p. 8.

[35] Alessandro Dumas, Le lupe di Machecoul, Napoli: Stamperia del Fibreno, 1858, vol. I, p. 178, ma traduction.

[36] Ibid., p. 38, ma traduction.

[37] Alexandre Dumas, Les louves de Machecoul, 1870, t. 3, p. 9.

[38] Henty, p. 246.

[39] Adriana Craciun states that “Craik does not ultimately support the French Revolution” (p. 222), although the conflict in the Vendée enabled “the characterization of Corday as a new kind of female political subject uniting both masculine and feminine qualities” (p. 201); “The New Cordays”, cit.

[40] Jean-Marie Grassin, Le témoignage comme anamnèses: génocides et justices. Deux cas opposés mais congruents : la Vendée au XVIIIe siècle et le Rwanda au XXe siècle, Communication Abstract, McMaster University, 2014; Le paradigme vendéen: étude du « cas » de la Guerre de Canudos (1893-1897), une« Vendée brésilienne », Université de Limoges, p. 3.

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