(The Barefoot Ones), participants in a major popular uprising in Normandy, France, in 1639.
The immediate cause of this uprising was the imposition of an extremely burdensome salt tax (gabelle). The rebellion began in the town of Avranches, spread through the rural areas of lower Normandy, and encompassed the cities of Caen, Rouen, and others. At the head of the rebels (urban lower classes and peasants) stood the semilegendary Jean the Barefooted. (Evidently this was the poor priest Jean Morel). The Va-nu-pieds became the actual masters of Normandy; they abolished the payment of all royal taxes, persecuted persons who had been involved in bribery and tax collection, and destroyed the estates of the gentry. Their social and political ideology was vague.
The Va-nu-pieds uprising had far-reaching echoes in many French provinces and alarmed the Richelieu government. Government troops were sent against them. After the military defeat of the Va-nu-pieds. Chancellor Séguier was sent to Normandy with full powers to punish the “rebellious province.” The Va-nu-pieds uprising was one of the popular outbreaks in France during the period from the 1620’s to the 1640’s, which preceded the Fronde.