The proposed memorial site
Our motivations are four in number:
a) Revive the memory of one of the main pages of the history of this region.
For the Cevennes, this approach is not a luxury. Pierre-Jean Ruff, when going to the Municipal Council of the town of St André de Lancize for presenting this project, realized with sadness that for some people strain from the Cevennes, the word Camisard evoked nothing clear and little interest.
To passersby, ensure just that they are not just bystanders, but that beyond the Cevennes landscape, they discover a story which challenges everybody (we can say the same, in other places, for epic and spiritual heritage of the Cathars or, in Corsica, of Pascal Paoli, the father of the Corsican country, but also the author of the first constitution existing in the world).
b) Recall a page of universal values and resistances to totalitarian ideologies, in a humanistic and cultural concern. Universal history has strong sequences, which interpellate everybody, beyond divisions, sensitivities and cultures. We believe that the epic Camisard fits into this list. In this regard, recall that this war, exceptionally, has never requested any temporal or political advantage. The only demand was freedom of religion and conscience.
c) Promote our region, including the creation and animation of camisard hiking trails and the visit of significant sites (already discussed above).
d) Target a wide audience. Our goal is educational and ethical. We wish to properly inform and interpellate. We address ourselves, not to specialists wanting to deepen a page of history. They will do so elsewhere. We would be delighted if some people, once having come to this place of memory, had the desire to explore this small database.
e) What we do not want
We are not primarily a place for information on Protestantism, its churches and their history. There are other places for it, more especially the Desert Museum http://www.museedudesert.com/article5684.html.
Obviously, if there are questions on Protestantism, past or present , we will answer them. But it will not be a priority for us.
Firstly, for us, Protestantism is the backdrop of this history and not its center.
Secondly, we believe more in an education expecting to answer questions than in a practice of shedding unwanted knowledge.
The location of this project
a) The temple at Le Rouve
This location is near the Col de Jalcreste at Le Rouve-Bas, commune of St André de Lancize and more accurately in the temple of the village.
Abandoned for thirty years, this temple is one of the few temples of Lozère unrestored to this day. Restoring it, together with a clear assignment, is a safeguard action of real estate. The temple is owned by the local municipality. The Municipal Council of St André de Lancize gives gladly this building in order to do this memorial. If the Greenway Florac-Jalcreste happens, this memory place would be a dominant point of interest.
With such a location of our project, heritage preservation joins the historical perspective. We have already developed that the first events of this Camisard War took place on the Bougès massif from where originated the prime instigators of the rebellion.
However, Le Rouve and its temple are on the foothills of Bougès and the dominant events of this story, as the majority of its instigators, concern the hamlets located above of Le Rouve.
We therefore have fundamental reasons to establish this memory place here.
b) The historical reasons which partly explain the importance of this Camisard geographical area
Municipalities on south side of the Bougès massif
These towns are all "ends of the world": St Andéol de Clerguemort, St Frézal de Ventalon, St Privat de Vallongue, Le Rouve (commune of St André de Lancize), Cassagnas and St Julien d'Arpaon.
The first three of these communes are on the Mediterranean side. Both climate and vegetation are typical. The following three are beyond the line of the catchment, they have therefore a different aspect.
However, these six municipalities have in common some hamlets lost (the term has its value) in the mountains. If we add the state in which access roads were in the 18th century, we understand the impossibility of monitoring and crisscrossing the entire region for the troops of Louis XIV. These places are, a priori, blessed for resistance. And they have not failed to their reputation !
The town of St André de Lancize and the sector of Le Rouve
Municipality uncommon, St André de Lancize consists of two centers: St André and Le Rouve with a no man's land of eight kilometers between them, and a number of hamlets around each of these poles.
The church, like in any common, was then in the chief town: St-André de Lancize. The hamlets dependent of Le Rouve: Rabiers, Les Oules, Vieljouves, Vieljeuf, La Roche, Le Pied de la Terre or Le Masmin, there are between ten and thirteen miles to get to church, the double round-trip. The obligation of practicing could hardly be enforced with rigor. Coincidentally, it is in these hamlets that the resistance has been the best organized.
All these reasons argue for a location specially justified at Le Rouve.
c) The animation team of our project
Regardless the historical heritage and the implementation of our project at Le Rouve, there is today a coincidence. It involves the animation team which is bringing this project.
From a conjectural point of view, we have there an animation team of quality. Half of them live there all year. Others have ties to Lozère or are living in Lozère. A good animation team in a so small village is almost unusual. In any case, there is an utmost reason for us to believe to the success of this project, since a good animation team is for us the most important thing for any achievement.
One does not hold the same language according to his or her interlocutors. We do not target primarily scholars already knowing a lot about the Camisards. They always find where and how to satisfy their thirst for knowledge. Maybe we can suggest other places that will better satisfy them. Either way, these scholars will be a small minority of those who come to see us.
We assume that, as elsewhere, the majority of those who visit specific sites on their way to holidays have a fragmented knowledge or even no one about what they are going to see. It is up to all of us to create the desire to know rather than to satisfy a thirst for knowledge. How to communicate will be our concern as well as the material provided. Both of them are closely related.
The sale of single books on the subject as well as the offer of the DVD of our audiovisual installation will be useful barometers of the audience of our message. Not that the sale is in itself a goal for us, but it will be an index of the beginning of the interest aroused by the museum.
Our pedagogical assumptions
We have already discussed the highlights of the beginning of the Camisard War in the Upper Cévennes. We will not return on that. On the contrary, we want to justify the method chosen to present this story.
Taking as a principle that we are talking primarily to those people who know little or nothing of the past and who are not necessarily passioned by history, we deliberately opted for a clear and simple presentation, citing only the broad outlines of this history, the facts which mark the imagination, rather than providing an accumulation of historical facts.
Thus, about the beginning of this camisard war in the Upper Cevennes, in the audio-visual, we retained only the case of the Pont de Montvert (release of prisoners, murder of the abbot of Chayla), the exceptional courage of Esprit Seguier at his trial and execution (even if we are not absolutely certain of the truth of the facts), and the razing of the Cevennes that, not without difficulty, Lamoignon de Baville and the marshal of Montrevel had got from Versailles.
We do not intend that visitors leave with lot of knowledge about the events identified. We especially want to open their appetite, showing them some fundamental or essential tags, without wanting to fill gaps between these tags. The important thing is the meaning: how this conflict calls to the universal consciousness and how it connects us to many other situations of all times?
The desired frame goes clearly in that sense. However, it does not neglect the historical veracity given that the audio-visual has been reviewed by several specialists of Camisard history (Henry Mouysset and Pierre Rolland while Patrick Cabanel, solicited, was not available to associate itself) who also determined the documents selected for the public.
So every assertion and every word were evaluated, sometimes weighed and discussed before being held and retained.
Activities associated with the creation of this memorial
It is important for us that this memorial sees the light of day. However, we wish it to be not only a place where information is received, but also a place seeking the active participation of those who come there, school children and others.
To do so, so far, we're committed to create and maintain Camisard hiking trails, especially around these places already mentioned at the beginning of this war: Vieljouves (birthplace of Couderc tribe and place of revelation to Abraham Mazel of his duty to go free the prisoners at Pont de Montvert), La Roche (birthplace of Jacques Couderc and where the abbot of Chayla stopped the preacher David Couderc) and "les Trois Faus" (meeting place for those who went to Pont de Montvert for delivering the prisoners).
Today other participatory perspectives are also considered.
a) The Camisard trails
As soon as the museum project was developed, this participatory creation mobilized each of us. How to evoke these so close decisive places without prompting people discovering them?
Very quickly, we knew that the Cultural Commission of the Cevennes National Park http://eng.cevennes-parcnational.fr/ had the desire to value this aspect of our historical heritage, as well as to unite the three or four people who were concerned.
Without hesitation or reservation, we associated ourselves with this project, including by participating in several meetings devoted to it, led by Odile Rival, at the head of the ecomuseum at the Pont de Montvert. This project is quite advanced to this day. It provides, inter alia, that the Park Commission will be fully responsible of marking and installing interpretive panels of the different hiking trails. The tours will be also under its full responsibility, with trained facilitators.
We support wholeheartedly this perspective, pleased that the Park has in hand the implementation of these circuits, their management and their animation.
b) Other participatory opportunities
We are quite aware that a project like ours must offer to visitors, school children and others, the opportunity on-site of making researches on internet and perhaps of being involved otherwise. This concern is ours, even if, in our opinion, it will be grafted later on our realization. An animation team, as successful it may be, cannot do everything and manage it simultaneously.