In August 1689 about 950 Waldensians and Huguenots assembled on the northern shore
s of Lake Geneva to undertake a risky mili-tary operation to re-occupy their native valleys. Pastor Henry Arnaud was one of the principal leaders of these troops, who were in twelve days to cover more than 250 kms before arriving at Bob-bio in the Bellice Valley. This action, organized in collabora-tion with the Netherlands, became known as the "Glorious Recovery". The main aim of the operation was to open up in the border zone between France and the Duchy of Savoy a new front against Louis XIV and his ally Victor Amadeus II. In this way the Protes-tant Powers, the Republic of the Netherlands and Great Britain, hoped to draw the Duke of Savoy into the anti-French camp.
This strategem bore fruit: in 1690 Victor Amadeus II changed sides. For the Waldensians
The "Glorious Recovery" in itself has always been considered of importance. First of ali there is the military aspect. Na-poleon was profoundly impressed by this show of verve, while in 1872 the Italian Ministry of War ordered Captain Eugenio Gallet to repeat the "Glorious Recovery" on foot. Sécondly there is its attraction for tourists, among whom principally the English, who escaping from their own country "ruined" by industrialization were searching for untainted nature and a people who lived simply. These they believed they had found among the Waldensians with their heroic story and humble mountain villages. English visitors such as Hugh Dyke Acland and illustrators such as Bartlett and Brockedon were already creating in the 1820s and 1830s a romantically idealized picture of the Waldensian Valleys and of the "Glorious Recovery". this meant the acceptance of their re-patriation in their valleys. Furthermore in 1690 and 1691 the women and children were able to return from exile and thus the Waldensians were able to begin a new life in these valleys, which had been their home for nearly five centuries.
Interest in the "Glorious Recovery" is not limited just to military historians and tourists. The Waldensian Church itself in the course of the nineteenth century became interested again in an event that was obviously so important to its very existence. The Waldensians, however, do not see in the "Glorious Recovery" an event whose only interest is military or to tourists; they were searching - and are stili searching - for a modern inter-pretation of this event. The Waldensian Church is attempting to
teli the story of the "Glorious Recovery" in a new way in rela-tion to the mission that it sees it has in an Italy so profoundly imbued with the mentality of the Counter-Reformation.