Jeanne-Antide Thouret was born in Sancey-Le-Long on 27 November 1765. The first human traces in the Sancey valley date back to the Mesolithic period (10,000 to 6,000 BC). A foundry was present during the Metal Age, between 2200 and 800 BC.
It was at Sancey l’Eglise that the first village community in the area developed, probably during the Merovingian period.
The mother church of Sancey appears to have been built in the 6th century by monks from the abbey of St Maurice d’Agaune.
In the Middle Ages, Sancey, a parish in the county of Burgundy, was part of the Holy Roman Empire.
During the 100 Years’ War, Sancey became part of the Duchy of Burgundy, which was then allied to the English.
In the 15th century, the “skinners”, mercenaries left without activities by the end of the Hundred Years’ War, ravaged the village as they did the whole region.
The first attempt at French conquest under Louis XI led to the area being pillaged by the Swiss, allies of France.
In the 16th century, the “Frankish” County of Burgundy, attached to the Spanish Netherlands and therefore to the Spanish Crown, enjoyed considerable autonomy. This was the Golden Age of Franc-Comtois. During the Wars of Religion, the Duke of Alba’s “Albanians”, on their way to Lorraine where Protestants and Catholics fought bloody battles, again ravaged Sancey and Franche-Comté.
In the 17th century, during the 30 Years’ War, which brought bloodshed to the whole of Europe, Franche-Comté was the scene of conflict from 1635 to 1644.
Sancey, with the exception of a few houses, was destroyed by the “Swedes” of the Duke of Weimar, who were allied with the French. Three quarters of the Comtoise population died in this war, which was accompanied by famine and a plague epidemic. As with every invasion, the Grottes de la Baume offered the population a safe haven that could accommodate the entire village.
Franche-Comté finally became French in 1678 with the Treaty of Nijmegen.
In Sancey, as elsewhere, the conquest was frowned upon, as evidenced by the Comtois’ request to be buried face down so as not to see the sun, King Louis XIV’s nickname.
After a century without unrest, the French Revolution was not very well received.
The two communes were created and a short-lived canton of Sancey l’Eglise was created, before merging with that of Clerval. The Civil Constitution of the Clergy and the persecution of Catholics tipped the valley over into the counter-revolution. Many villagers followed Jeanne-Antide and the rebellious priests, hiding in the woods and caves nearby.
In the summer of 1793, Sancey took part in the insurrection of the Comtoise “Petite Vendée”, a popular anti-revolutionary uprising that took place during the summer of 1793 in certain cantons of the Doubs department located in the districts of Ornans and Pontarlier, on the Swiss border. Quickly crushed (the dates generally used are 31 August 1793 – 6 September 1793), the uprising was followed by heavy repression, with numerous arrests, deportations and executions. Historian Danièle Pingué from the University of Franche-Comté summed up the event: “Although short-lived and confined to a few cantons, this insurrection left a lasting mark on our collective memory”.
The villages affected by the uprising are located in a landlocked part of Franche-Comté with a strong Catholic tradition, forming a religious border with the Protestant principality of Montbéliard to the north and the Swiss cantons to the east. This area was very much affected by the Counter-Reformation, which wove powerful networks and had a profound effect on people’s minds, as demonstrated by the religious foundations of Antoine-Sylvestre Receveur (1750-1804) and Jeanne-Antide Thouret (1765-1826) at the time of the Revolution and the Directoire.
Although the beginnings of the Revolution were not unwelcome, tensions arose with the Civil Constitution of the Clergy of 1790, and opposition became more pronounced in 1791 when the Pope condemned the new institution on 10 March 1791, and the Archbishop of Besançon, Raymond de Durfort, a refractory priest, was deposed on 12 March 1791 and exiled to Switzerland. There were many refractory priests in these very Catholic areas, and contacts with militant emigrants were important, facilitated by the proximity of Switzerland.
Local public opinion was dominated by the Catholic party, which strongly rejected the de-Christianisation of the Convention and was sometimes sensitive to the royalist propaganda that had been reinforced after the death of the king. However, a revolutionary minority – the patriots – remained active and controlled political and administrative activities with the support of armed national guards. The climate was tense in this border region, troubled by contacts with Switzerland, where emigrants and rebellious priests were gathered, while the poor harvests and the requisitions ordered by the Comité de salut public to feed the armies were already causing tempers to flare: the patriot municipalities confiscated the weapons of the Catholic partisans to avoid violent confrontations.
Confrontations became even more threatening after the decision on 23 August 1793 to mass-raise men aged between 25 and 30, reinforcing the Convention’s decree of 24 February 1793, which only concerned unmarried or widowed men aged between 18 and 25. The Catholic peasants did not agree to defend a power that oppressed them and whose values they did not share.
Knowing at least broadly the geographical, cultural, religious roots of people helps us to appreciate them more, even if we do not inherit all of them from our native culture. Life then takes care of nourishing, enriching, diversifying.