Reproduction of the Sacred Heart design, as worn by the Vendéan royalist rebels of 1793-96.
During the darkest moments of the French Revolution in the aftermath of King Louis XVI in January 1793, the revolutionary government attempted to forcibly levy 300,000 men in the new republican army. Revolutionaries followed this up with the looting of churches, the assault of women, and the removal of crosses as grave markers. Standard "enlightenment" and "progressive" stuff. Enraged, the Vendean population took up arms against the terror of the revolution.
For the next three years, the Vendean insurgents would fight a gallant war against revolutionary France. As King Louis XVI had been executed, they adopted the motto "Dieu Le Roi", meaning "God The King", a line with a Sacred Heart motif that would become one of the first "morale patches" in military history. The poorly armed peasants of the Vendée would fight against the modern army of the new aristocrats of the revolutionary regime. Significantly outnumbered against their foes and largely suffering from a decentralized leadership, the Vendean revolt was crushed and some 170,000 of the population were massacred.
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