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Vendée

The Vendée is département # 85 in the region of the Pays de la Loire in west central France, on the Atlantic's Bay of Biscay. The name "Vendée" is taken from that of a river that runs through the south-east of the département. Its inhabitants are referred to as Vendeans (French Vendéens).

Its préfecture (capital) is La Roche-sur-Yon[?].

Sous-préfectures: Fontenay le Comte[?] and Les Sables d'Olonne[?].

Originally known as the Bas-Poitou, the village of Nieul-sur-l'Autise is believed to be the birthplace of Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204) and was part of her Kingdom. Eleanor's son, Richard I of England (the Lionhearted) often based himself in Talmont[?]. The Hundred Years' War (1337-1453) turned much of the Vendée into a battleground.

Since the Vendée held a considerable number of influential Protestants, including control by Jeanne d'Albret, the region was also greatly marked by the 36-year French Wars of Religion which broke out in 1562. Eventually King Henri IV, issued the Edict of Nantes and the Wars came to an end. When the Edict of Nantes was revoked in 1685, it caused many Huguenots to flee from the Vendée.

It is also remembered as the place where the peasants revolted against the Revolutionary government in 1793. The bloody conflict, in support of the Monarchy and against the changes imposed on the Roman Catholic Church erupted in defiance of the Revolutionary government's military conscription. A guerrilla war, led by an underground faction known as the Chouans[?] (screech owls), the revolt became known as the Wars of the Vendée and would cost more than 100,000 lives until it ended in 1796.

In 1850, British author, Anthony Trollope, published his book "La Vendee" detailing the history of the region and the war.

With more than 100 miles of sandy beaches edged with dunes and pine woods, and a very mild climate, Vendée is today a popular tourist destination. It holds many churches and abbeys, museums, and for nature lovers, there are thousands of waymarked footpaths, a signposted cycleway running along the coastal mudflats and marshes that attract unusual birds plus fishing in the ocean or in the Vendée's rivers and lakes.

See also: Communes of the Vendée département



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