The bocage vendéen, land of illustrious people and giants: over the centuries, great figures have passed through the bocage vendéen, and have strongly marked the territory.

“Bluebeard”, “Charette”, or even “Clemenceau”… all have left a strong mark on the Vendée territory. Through these historical personalities, discover the Vendée bocage in a different way.

From the 15th century to the beginning of the 19th century…

Gilles de Rais (1404 – 1440)

Great Lord of the Marches of Brittany, former comrade in arms of Joan of Arc during the Hundred Years War, he was promoted to the title of Marshal of France in 1429. He was one of the main builders of the site of Tiffauges and carried out many architectural modifications of the fortress.

Accused of hundreds of crimes of infanticide and black magic, he was executed at the stake in 1440.”Blue Beard“, the cruel character of Charles Perrault, would be inspired by Gilles de Rais.

François Athanase Charette de la Contrie (1763 – 1796)

Nicknamed the King of Vendée, General Charette fought at the head of a army of Vendée peasants during major battles, opposing it to the Republican army. He was the last to face the repression undertaken by the republican regime of Terror.

He is captured in the woods of the Chabotterie, in Saint-Sulpice-le-Verdon, on March 23, 1796. He was condemned and then executed six days later in Nantes.

Marie-Caroline de Bourbon-Siciles (1798 – 1870) known as The Duchess of Berry

In April 1832, she commanded the Vendée uprising by calling on the Vendean chefs, in order to dethrone Louis-Philippe to put his son the young Duke Henry of Bordeaux in his place.

The balance of forces was too unequal and the Vendée insurrection from June 4 to 7 was repressed in a bloodbath. His son will not ascend the throne of France.

From the 19th century to today...

Georges Clemenceau (1841 – 1929)

Born in Vendée, Georges Clemenceau (nicknamed “The Tiger”) is particularly known for his great political involvement. Doctor, journalist, politician, he was President of the Council from 1906 to 1909, then from 1917 to 1919.

History has captured his decisive action for the victory in the First World War. En 1929, he chose Mouchamps as a final resting place. He rests in the Bois du Colombier (former family home) with his father.

Jean Yole (1878 – 1956)

Born Léopold Robert, Jean Yole is a writer and politician. He was mayor of Vendrennes and senator of Vendée from 1936 to 1944.

He votes full powers to Marshal Pétain on July 10, 1940. He is declared ineligible by a jury of honor after the Liberation. He retired from political life.

Gaston Chaissac (1910 – 1964)

The artist Gaston Chaissac lived in Sainte-Florence (commune of Essarts en Bocage) from 1948 to 1961. When he arrived in the commune, his personality was disturbing and opinions about him were mixed. He is a co-ordinator without shoe or customer, painter and writer still totally unknown and husband of the director of the public and secular school which supported the family. In Sainte-Florence, he covers the latrines of the municipal school (since listed as “Historic Monuments”) with graffiti.

In 1973, the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris devoted a retrospective to him which, ten years after his death, definitively recognized him as one of the best creators of his time. Today theSpace Gaston Chaissac in Essarts-en-Bocage, a scenographic space is dedicated to him and retraces his life.

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