"They may take away our country, they may kill our curés, they may destroy our churches, but they cannot take away our God!"
Thus speaks one of Henty's characters in this little-known story of the rising of the peasants of La Vendée against the tyranny of the "butchers of Paris," as the leaders of the French Revolution and their agents were called.
When Leigh Stansfield's sister Patsey marries Jean Martin, the son of a French wine merchant, Leigh joins the household at Nantes to learn the family trade. When Jean is denounced at the club, the trio flees to Jean's estate in La Vendée, and becomes involved in the struggle against the Blues. Leigh forms a small patrol that becomes famous for its exploits of valor—including a prison rescue and a stout defense of a bridge against a large army of the Blues—and Jean joins the army of peasants. When the cause is lost, Leigh and his sister, taking on various disguises, gradually make their way back to England, where Patsey is reunited with Jean, who has managed to escape by another route.
The Vendee region of the French Province of Poitou erupted in revolt after the exacting of military levees and attempted destruction of the church by the Revolution. Led by their local priests and other community leaders, the army of Vendée defeated all the forces of the Republic that were thrown at them for 18 months. The very cause of their success—large peasant armies operating on home territory—proved their undoing when the farmers went home and the organized military might of the new government was unleashed on the region. The Great Terror came to the Vendee and more than 40,000 men, women, and children were butchered by the "Peoples' Army," their crops burned, the towns and homes razed, and churches destroyed.
Did you find this review helpful?