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Vendee

department, south, north and bocage

VENDEE, vein-dl, France, a western mari time department formed from ancient Poiton, and deriving its name from the river Vendee. It is bounded on the north by the departments of the Loire-Inferieure and Maine-et-Loire; on the east by the department of Deux-Sevres; on the south by that of Charente-Inferieure; and on the southwest and west by the Bay of Bis cay; area, 2,692 square miles. The surface is much diversified and is divided into three dis tinct parts; the Bocage (Thicket), on the north and northeast, a hilly and wooded district form ing about one-half of the department; the Plaine, a tongue of land included between the Bocage and the southern limit of the depart ment, a bare arid tract sloping down toward the sea; and the Marais, including all the south and west coasts, where salt marshes prevail. In the north the department is watered by tributaries of the Loire, especially the Sevre-Nantaise, and in the south by the Lay (with the Yon) and tributaries of the Sevre-Niortaise. Besides grain, which more than suffices for the home consumption, the principal crops are flax and hemp; a considerable quantity of an indifferent white wine is also produced. For administrative purposes Vendee is divided into three arron dissements La Roche-sur-Yon, Fontenay-le Comte and Sables d'Olonne, which are subdi vided into 30 cantons and 299 communes; capi tal, Le Roche-sur-Yon. The inhabitants, par ticularly those of the Bocage, are remarkable for the simplicity of their manners and their attachment to old usages, to the nobility of the district and to the clergy. Inspirited by such

leaders as La Roche-jacquelein, C,athelineau, Charette and Sofflet, and aided by the hilly and wooded nature of the ground, they carried on from 1793 to 1796 a war in the royalist cause, which endangered the existence of the republic. The first severe check they met with was at Savenay, 24 Dec. 1793, where their forces were broken up and the survivors and their families were dragged to Nantes and drowned in masses by Carrier. In the following year a fresh out break took place and the Vendeans were joined by the Chouans, but after some fighting they were pacified 'by the government granting an amnesty, freedom from military service, the free exercise of their religion and an indemni fication for their losses. The landing of some thousands of emigres at Quiberon encouraged them to resume their arms, but the rising was completely quelled by the activity of General Hoche, who treated the Vendeans, however, with great mildness. In the winter of 1799 1800, and again in 1814 and 1815, some risings took place in favor of the Bourbons, but they were quickly suppressed by prudent and vigor ous measures. The population has been nearly stationary for the past 25 years, being before the war about 440,000. See CATHELINEAU, CHOUANS and LA ROCHEJACQUELEIN.