Jean Cavalier was the most famous camisard leader
Jean Cavalier was born in Ribaute (Anduze County) on 28 November, 1681. He was the son of Elisabeth Granier and Antoine Cavalier. He worked as a farm hand with his uncle at Vézenobre, and then became baker’s boy at Anduze (Gard). In 1701, after being spotted in secret forbidden protestant gatherings, he left for Geneva. In 1702 he came back and, with a few young men from the plain, joined the rebels in the Cévennes after the murder of Father du Chayla ; he left the mountains in September and his troops increased and became better equipped with each attack.
Alone or together with Rolland, he ravaged entire Catholic villages and burnt down the churches. He attacked royal troops and at times defeated them as at the Mas de Cauvi, just outside Alès in December 1702, or at Devois de Martignargues, near Vézenobre in March 1704. But a little later, in April 1704 his troops were severely defeated at Nages. His secret “storage places” in Euzet were discovered and ransacked. He then started negotiations with Field-Marshall Villars to whom he surrendered. He left with a few faithful supporters.
He arrived in Geneva and offered to serve the duke of Savoy who made him a colonel. In 1706, at the head of an Anglo-Portuguese regiment composed of camisards and of refugees, he attempted to return to the Cévennes through Catalonia – but his troops were defeated at Almansa and he was severely wounded.
On half-pay he went back and forth between England and Holland until 1710, and finally settled in Ireland living on his small allowance. In 1735 he was promoted brigade general, and in 1738 lieutenant-governor of the Isle of Jersey. On 17 May, 1740, he died in Chelsea and was buried in the Western London suburb – and not in the specific French refugees’ cemetery in Dublin.
- ALLARD A., Jean Cavalier, chef camisard, Dordrecht, 1925
- PIN Marcel, Jean Cavalier, Nîmes, 1936
The event that triggered off the war
The event that triggered off the war of the Camisard was the assassination of Father du Chayla at Pont-de-Monvert on 24 July, 1702.
Guerre civile en Cévennes
Tricentenaire de la guerre des camisards (1702-2002)
Élie Marion (1678-1713)
Élie Marion was one of the few leaders and prophets who had completed university studies. Exiled to London, he founded the group “the Children of God” or “French Prophets”, and tried to promote prophetic ardour throughout Europe.
The end of the of the war of the Camisards
The camisard leaders surrendered one after the other and separately negociated with field marshal de Villars. Up to 1710 several attempts were made to take up the uprising once more, but all of them failed.
The origins of the Camisards war
After the Edict of Nantes had been revoked in 1865, Protestant churches were destroyed and reformed worship forbidden. But lay people, preachers and, a little later, prophets replaced the exiled pastors. Faced with pitiless repression in the Languedoc region, the prophets – up till now of a pacifist tendency – began to advocate uprising.