Chouans (shōˈənz, Fr. shwäN) [key] [Norman Fr., = owls], peasants of W France who rose against the French Revolutionary government in 1793. One of their first leaders was Jean Cottereau, traditionally nicknamed Jean Chouan, marquis de La Rouerie [John the owl, marquess of Mischief], and the Chouans supposedly used the hoot of an owl as a signal. The movement eventually merged with the contemporary rising in the Vendée. The Chouans were motivated by their opposition to specific policies of the new republican government that interfered with their way of life, including religious policy and enforcement of the conscription laws. The name Chouannerie continued to be used in reference to guerrilla warfare that lasted until Napoleon. The so-called Petite Chouannerie persisted until 1815, when Napoleon was forced to divert troops from Waterloo to quell it. Honoré de Balzac's novel Les Chouans pictures these people vividly.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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