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Chouans(sho͞o`ənz, Fr. shwäN) [Norman Fr.,=owls], peasants of W France who rose against the French Revolutionary government in 1793. One of their first leaders was Jean Cottereau, traditionally nicknamed Jean Chouan, marquis de La Rouerie [John the owl, marquess of Mischief], and the Chouans supposedly used the hoot of an owl as a signal. The movement eventually merged with the contemporary rising in the VendéeVendée
, department (1990 pop. 509,356), W France, on the Bay of Biscay, in Poitou. The offshore islands of Noirmoutier and Yeu are included in the department. Largely an agricultural (dairying, cattle raising) and forested region, the Vendée has many beach resorts
..... Click the link for more information. . The Chouans were motivated by their opposition to specific policies of the new republican government that interfered with their way of life, including religious policy and enforcement of the conscription laws. The name Chouannerie continued to be used in reference to guerrilla warfare that lasted until Napoleon. The so-called Petite Chouannerie persisted until 1815, when Napoleon was forced to divert troops from Waterloo to quell it. Honoré de Balzac's novel Les Chouans pictures these people vividly.
rebels who engaged in counterrevolutionary activity in northwestern France during the French Revolution and under the Directory and the Consulate. The name “Chouan” is often said to derive from chat-huant, or screech owl, the bird whose cry the rebels imitated as a signal.
The first bands of Chouans formed in southern Maine in the summer of 1792. By 1793, the year usually taken as the beginning of the revolt, the Chouan movement had spread throughout northwestern France. Many of the rebels were peasants from economically and politically backward areas who had fallen under the influence of the royalists and counterrevolutionary clergy. Other peasants in the movement wished to avoid the conscription that had been announced in February 1793.
After the Jacobins came to power, rich peasants who had been alienated by government requisitions and by the introduction of the Law of the Maximum joined the Chouans. Ideological leadership of the rebels subsequently passed to the petty nobility and to priests who had refused to take the oath of allegiance.
Republican troops dealt the movement a heavy blow in 1794. Nevertheless, in 1795, G. Cadoudal led more than 10,000 Chouans in support of the Quiberon expedition. The Chouans, who were linked to the royalist emigres in Great Britain, continued the struggle until 1803, when the rebel movement was finally suppressed.