Camisards (so called from the camisa, a kind of smock frock which they wore), French Protestants of the Cevennes, who rebelled at the beginning of the 18th century; they are also called Cevenols. As early as the 13th century the Albigenses and Waldenses had taken refuge in the Cevennes, where they were occasionally subjected to persecution. After the reformation they adopted the Calvinistic creed. They were of a peaceful disposition, but during the reign of Louis XIV. were subjected to a long series of persecutions. Prominent among their enemies was the abbe du Chayla, who subjected many of them to torture. One night in 1702 a few hundred of them stole to the castle of Pont de Montvert, his residence, seized the abbe, and put him to death. This was the signal of general rebellion. The Camisards flew to arms. "No taxes " and "Liberty of conscience" were the devices inscribed on their standards. Among their leaders were Roland, who had served in the army and possessed some military knowledge; Jean Cavalier, a journeyman baker, who evinced remarkable talents; Ravenal and Abdias Manuel, surnamed Catinat. The marshal de Montrevel, who was first sent against them, thought that terror and severity were the only means of subduing them; their villages were burned, and the prisoners hanged or broken on the wheel.
The Camisards in their turn burned and pillaged Catholic villages, sacked churches, and massacred priests. Marshal Villars, who succeeded Montrevel, tried clemency and persuasion, and brought a number of Camisards to terms, among them Jean Cavalier, who was then the ablest and most popular of their chiefs. But this submission did not bring the contest to a close. Cavalier was denounced as a traitor by his brethren; the other leaders, and especially Roland, continued to resist. But Roland having been killed in 1704, hostilities slackened, the country was apparently pacified, and Villars left it for other service. In 1705, however, Marshal Berwick had again to crush an insurrection. A few years later, through the agency of some Dutch emissaries, a new rising took place in the Vivarais, a part of the Cevennes country; and its suppression was a hard task for the government of Louis XIV. The Camisards were honest and virtuous people, but their name was wrongfully assumed by troops of robbers who, about the same period, pillaged some parts of Languedoc.