Peasants' War (1798)

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Peasants' War
Part of the French Revolutionary Wars
The Peasant War.jpg
Peasants gathering, Constantin Meunier (1875)
Date 12 October 1798 – 5 December 1798
(1 month and 23 days)
Location Southern Netherlands annexed by the French Republic
(modern-day Belgium, Luxembourg and German border lands)
Result French republican victory
France French Republic Counter-revolutionary peasants
Commanders and leaders
France Claude-Sylvestre Colaud Pieter Corbeels
Casualties and losses
In Flanders, c.15,000 dead
In Luxembourg, 200–300[1]
Memorial in Arzfeld, Germany

The Peasants' War (Luxembourgish: Klëppelkrich, French: Guerre des Paysans, German: Klöppelkrieg, Dutch: Boerenkrijg) was a peasant revolt in 1798 against the French occupation of the Southern Netherlands following the Treaty of Campo Formio.[2] The area included modern Belgium, Luxembourg, and parts of Germany. This war is one of the French Revolutionary Wars.

By region[edit]


In Luxembourg (Forêts département), the revolt is called Klëppelkrich. The revolt was sparked off by the introduction of conscription for all men aged between 20 and 25 years old in Luxembourg, in late September 1798,[3] and quickly spread, enveloping most of the West Eifel.[4] For the most part, the revolt was restricted to the peasantry, hence its name, and the revolutionary impulse barely spread to the middle classes, for whom the spirit of anti-clericalism and modernisation that the French Revolution brought were advantageous.[4]

Bereft of organization and military training, and without the backing of the middle classes, the insurgency was quickly put down by the French occupiers.[4] In retribution for the revolt, 94 insurgents were tried, of whom 42 were sentenced to death.[5]


In Flanders (Lys and Scheldt départements) and Brabant (Deux-Nèthes and Dyle départements), it was called Boerenkrijg. It started with an incident in Overmere. A group of brigands was chased through the Campines by the French army, led by General Jardon, and was defeated in Hasselt (department of Meuse-Inférieure), on December 5, 1798. There were between 5000 and 10,000 deaths and severe repression (170 executions of the leaders). Another group went towards the coast, to meet the British, but were defeated at Ingelmunster (200 deaths).


In Walloon Brabant, the Hainaut (Jemmape département), Namur (Sambre-et-Meuse département) and Liège (Ourthe département), there was some resistance, supported by for instance the Abbot of Gembloux, Dom Columba Wilmart. But in general the acceptance of membership in France and the cooperation of local authorities to conscription were more important.

In later culture[edit]


  1. ^ "De Verlaf vum Klëppelkrich" (in Luxembourgish). Histoprim. Retrieved 10 September 2007. 
  2. ^ Ganse, Alexander. "The Flemish Peasants War of 1798". World History at KMLA. Korean Minjok Leadership Academy. Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  3. ^ Trausch (2002), p. 205
  4. ^ a b c Kreins (2003), p. 66
  5. ^ Brown, Howard (June 2005). "Revolt and Repression in the Midi Toulousain". French History 19 (2): p. 252. doi:10.1093/fh/cri013.