Life in Ancien Regime Vaud

Vivienne Larminie explores the history of the Pays de Vaud, showing how resistance to Protestant reform gave rise to a distinctive culture and, in 1798, a revolt against foreign rule.

For the Enlightenment luminaries like Voltaire, Rousseau, Edward Gibbon and Madame de Staël who made it their temporary home, and for other foreigners like James Boswell who passed through on the Grand Tour, the Pays de Vaud, in what is now western Switzerland, was a haven of freedom and of agreeable literary society. Gibbon, who spent nearly five years there as a youth, reckoned that he owed his ‘creation’ to Lausanne. Here he received a better education than at Oxford, was weaned from Catholic superstition and forged lasting intellectual friendships; here he returned in old age as the most congenial place in which to complete his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

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