The history of the Vendée war told through the stained glass windows, in a beautiful book

Daniel Durandet
Daniel Durandet. ©DR

Le Journal des Sables: The stained glass windows recount the Vendée war is your 18th book. This time around a theme on which we did not necessarily expect you?

Daniel Durandet: When you love, you don’t count! I have actually written four or five books on Les Sables d’Olonne and especially books on the old school and the school of yesteryearit’s been my hobby since I dropped television (Editor’s note Daniel Durandet was a great reporter for France Télévisions for 40 years, a specialist in aviation and space).

It was during the making of my book The 101 wonders of the Vendée, that I fell in love with stained glassin particular those of Lucs-sur-Boulogne.

I then said to myself that I had to write a book on the stained glass windows of the Vendée. There was already a lot of writing on the subject, but rather religious. I wanted to do something else. I noticed that there were many stained glass windows on the Vendée war. So I started even if I am not a scholar on the subject.

How did you go about identifying these stained glass windows?

As in everything I do, I like to be exhaustive. I wanted to create a sort of thesaurus, so that when people read my book, they know everything about it. There are plenty of other books that tell the War of Vendée very well. Me, through the stained glass windows, it’s piecemeal.

Say this is the short story of the Vendée war told by the stained glass windows of the military Vendéeterritory affected by this war from 1793 to 1796, that is to say the Vendée, but also part of Maine-et-Loire, Loire-Atlantique and Deux-Sèvres.

But I hadn’t seen the extent of the disaster! I had to go through all the departments, to go to the churches… I was guided in all of this by a few books which were my working base and then I took my pilgrim’s staff.

I started at the time of Covid, but many small churches were closed. It was a lot of journalism.

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Stained glass windows are not just found in churches. There are also some in castles, private places. Some castellans opened the doors of their private chapels to me.

In all, I visited 60 churches, chapels, abbeys, castles, etc 220 stained glass windows relating to the Vendée war appear in my book.

How did you choose to list all these stained glass windows?

I didn’t want to arrange them in geographical or chronological order.

I said to myself that, for three years, this war had been a real theater. I have therefore chosen to present these stained glass windows as a play in six acts on the major themes and major actors of this war and 60 scenes.

This allowed, in my opinion, to classify these works in a more harmonious way. You know, I’m a television man, the image is very important to me. This is what made my attention focus on this subject.

The town of Les Sables-d’Olonne was not spared by the war. Can we find traces of it through these stained glass windows?

Yes. The city’s archives department also helped me. Les Sables remained a Republican throughout the war. It was a place of garrison of the republicans and people who did not want to take sides came to take refuge there. The royalists tried to reach them twice without succeeding.

In Sables-d’Olonne, the Republicans guillotined those who disagreed with them (often religious).

It was, moreover,a rolling guillotine who traveled from town to town. That of Les Sables came from Fontenay-le-Comte. It was erected between the beach and the port. From April 6, 1793 to March 18, 1794, it has been used more than 100 times.

And then, one day, she stopped walking. In addition, as the Republicans found that the guillotine did not go fast enough, they went to guns.

These Sablaises executions can be found on the stained glass windows of the Saint-Hilaire de Talmont church and the Saint-Révérend church..

Do you have an idea of ​​the subject of your next book?

This was my last book on the Vendée. I left to live a few months ago on the heights of Nice. I will go back to my first love, which was the creation of board games. I will definitely do one on cruises.

The stained glass windows tell of the Vendée war by Daniel Durandet, La Geste editions. 258 pages. €39.90. Available to order from all booksellers.

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The history of the Vendée war told through the stained glass windows, in a beautiful book