Jacques Cathelineau & Diamonds in the Rough

Here is a name you do not often hear, but probably should familiarize yourself with.

We know from the last century that the crimes of our enemies, whether they coat themselves with the flags of Liberalism or Bolshevism, are covered up by the unscrupulous efforts of the educational establishment. Of course, it is a necessity that children in every Occidental country know the crimes of the universal boogeyman Adolf Hitler, but the gulags of Soviet Russia are a footnote in most teachings of the 20th Century. The body count was far higher, and yet it does not merit mention for after all, most of the victims were white.

This is not the first time such a thing has occurred. People remain unaware of one of the bloodiest episodes in France’s history, one so abhorrent and ruthlessly executed, some refer to it as the first genocide of the modern age, and this is the War in the Vendée. Located on the west coast, the Vendée was an agricultural production sector, criss-crossed by rivers that made outgoing trade economic, wheat in particular being a staple crop.

Between 1790 and 1793, popular resentment in the Vendée towards the Revolutionary government, which by this time had complete control of the country, was building. A number of things were at play. The first was that the Vendéans had no hostility to their nobles or the monarchy. To a large extent, Vendéan nobles had retained close ties and relationships within their rural communities and landed estates. Another contributing factor was the ‘Civil Constitution of the Clergy’ which was passed in order to force Catholic priests to swear allegiance to the new, increasingly anti-clerical government. The vast majority of bishops refused, as did most of the lower priesthood, and the people loyal to the Catholic Church knew precisely that such a constitution would enslave the priesthood to a hostile atheistic power. In response, the government shuttered virtually all the churches in the Vendée and executed or exiled its priests. The situation worsened still with the official witch hunt for counterrevolutionaries known as ‘The Terror’. King Louis XVI was also executed at the start of 1793, something the population found unthinkable.

The final straw came with a forced conscription aimed at producing a 300,000 strong military unit in the Vendée, presumably to stifle dissent there. Rioting erupted across the region, with men taking up arms as the ‘The Catholic Army’, with ‘Royal’ to be added later.While this revolt was pacified in the north, lack of troops in the south led to a string of defeats for the revolutionary government as a regional insurrection became a bloody civil war, and spread to other regions including Anjou and Brittany.

scenes of the carange

So who was Jacques Cathelineau? Born in 1759 to a modest family in Le Pin-en-Mauges, he showed a high degree of intelligence and religious devotion at school, leading him down the path of becoming a priest, however six years in the rectory, he found no vocation available for him. By 1777, he was married with eleven children and so found work where he could in order to support them, first as a bricklayer (his father’s profession) and then as a street peddler selling all sorts of items in towns across Anjou and the Vendée; trinkets, devotional objects, handkerchiefs, etc. Because of his wide travels, he became well known, something of a famous face, and was well liked by all who admired his continued devotion to the Church as well as his personal piety.

Having witnessed the beatings and bayonet executions of Catholics in Anjou, when conscription was announced, Cathelineau gathered a band of no more than twenty seven men and plotted to seize the town of Jallais, where guns and ammunition were stored. The town fell as its surprised Republican guard were decimated, leading more to join the fight, including nobles and former tacticians with the French military. Under their advisement, the town of Chemillé was also taken.Other towns soon fell and Cathlineau found himself in command of a 30,000 strong army. While they rested to celebrate Easter, the Republicans engaged in a shameless scorched earth policy, burning entire towns suspected of counterrevolutionary sympathies and executing scores, including Cathelineau’s brother. Even as the Vendéan army took prisoners, it refused to execute them, nor did they engage in looting anything other than military equipment.

By this time, professional soldiers were being sent in to quell the uprising, under orders from the satanic ‘Committee of Public Safety’ to enact a policy of total destruction, demanding that even women and children in rebel territory be put to the sword.

His bravery in battle, and his appeal to the common man fighting with the Royal Catholic Army led the unorganized faction to declare Cathelineau their generalissimo, and he became known in many provinces by the affectionate title, the ‘Saint of Anjou’. As the army raced for the port city of Nantes, he was struck by a bullet and died in the arms of nuns. He was only 34 years old. After this, with many more bloody protracted battles, the insurrection was crushed and in the end, a total of around 130,000 royalist soldiers as well as sympathetic civilians were dead.

the sacred heart, symbol of the uprising
often seen at French rightist rallies even today

So, why is this important, aside from educating ourselves about the history of our political movement? Because it is a tale of the extraordinary, a man of humble origins rising to the station of the noble warrior, willing to be martyred for God and the monarchical ideal. Not possible! We know that the innate characteristics of man, the reality of caste distinction, would preclude such a thing. Jacques Cathelineau did not have a military background, and certainly not a noble one, so how did this occur? Therein lies the beauty of the extraordinary, the miraculous.

The hero waits in every man, but only in a true warrior manifests itself to the greatest height, whether that warrior triumph on the ruins of enemy strongholds, or die honorably in battle. The surprise hero, the unexpected soldier, is a gift of divine grace and intervention, and this is what makes the story of the Vendée inspiring. The case for Cathelineau’s sainthood is not merely based on his martyrdom, but in his transformation from a man who sold tchotchkes off the back of a wagon, to a towering combatant in defense of Catholic Monarchism. Let us consider, were we to take an unbiased guess at the background of the most renowned man in all human history, would we not all assume an emperor of some kind? Would we ever in our wildest dreams imagine an obscure carpenter from Galilee? Far from diminishing the majesty of Christ, this makes Him all the more remarkable as a figure of history, He defines that common expression ‘diamond in the rough’, meaning something of unremarkable origins with the as yet overlooked potential to be spectacular. In this way, Cathelineau mirrors Christ in his emergence from the mist of footnotes to the halls of greatness. Often the highest of things are born from the great exceptions to great rules. 

In Orthodoxy, we have a practice upon entering Church to light a thin candle and place it in a bowl of sand or small stones, before making the sign of the cross and kissing the icon. Christ said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father Who is in the heavens.” and so the candles commonly represent us and our commitment to pursue the will of God through our works that we may be like candles in the dark, exemplifying Him in all we do (along with a whole host of other significances that candles hold). It is also customary to light your candle for someone who is in trouble, or indeed for someone who has departed from this world, and so, often I will offer my candle to Reactionary heroes who gave their lives in service to the political will of God as represented in the Traditional worldview. This Sunday, my candle will burn for the intercession and glory of Jacques Cathelineau, our diamond in the Vendée, our Saint of Anjou.
(The Mad Monarchist had a profile on Cathelineau in 2009)

8 thoughts on “Jacques Cathelineau & Diamonds in the Rough

  1. Vive le Roi! Vive la Grande Armée Catholique et Royale

    Great piece! I’ve seen your interview by Tara on YouTube, when you mentioned the French revolution and the right left dichotomy you oversimplified it by the Traditionalists=Nobility and Priests, Revolutionaries=tiers-état.

    This is a false equivalence and Cathelineau is a proof of this (i know you needed to keep it short), Philippe Egalité is another proof of this.
    The problem is, hearing this, a lot of people will understand that the side they naturally belong to is the revolutionary side. They will identify, wrongly, as the tiers. And this is key. Let me develop in my broken English.

    The engineering of truth is extremely prevalent in the west, to the point, as you know, that right wing thinking, or traditionalism if you prefer, has almost vanished from our societies. This piece about the Vendée (great book about it is “from genocide to memoricide” by R. Secher) shows this perfectly.

    Therefore, presenting the 2 opponents this way you help create or reinforce a mental obstacle to breaking the glass between liberalism, nationalism (and all their minions) and traditionalism.

    I know this is not much but it has its importance. Part of the reason we see incomplete movements such as fascism, alt-right and so on is due to the inability to break this invisible barrier that is strongly cemented in our fellow citizens brains.


    • Glad you enjoyed the interview.

      The view of caste is not at all contradicted by the great examples of heroes from humble backgrounds, and I did try to make that point in the essay, that the very reason these men are so remarkable is because they transcend a plane of caste because of a calling. A peasant becomes a warrior, but interestingly not a warrior seeking to enthrone himself, but to enthrone someone above himself. It is the ultimate act of heorism in the name of Tradition, for there is no guile, no personal agenda. Nothing but boundless self-sacrifice for the glory of God, flesh rended in the name of spirit. God did not bring Jacques into the world with the prerequisites to fight a war (he was not a soldier), but when God asked him to leave his caste, to leave his station, to rise to a new calling because it was urgent, he did not hesitate. The same is true of Codreanu. This type of hero is more inspiring than any who appear in the great epics.

      Most people are not warriors or priests, but this does not mean they cannot be Traditional. Most Traditionalists throughout history were neither. It’s not a question of station, but what you value. Can a farmer not value his race as much as a soldier? Yes, absolutely.


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