Le Roman de Jacques Bonhomme, laboureur (Terroirs classiques) (French Edition)


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Enriched with an exact pronunciation, and many new dialogues. Being digested in a most admirable order; for the most part containing an account of England's triumphs, with the state of France, ecclesiastical, civil, and military. With an addition of seven hundred French verses upon the rules. Also a chapter of Anglicismes, with instruction for travellers into France. Referencing help Visit Special Collections. Catalogues of archives are usually arranged in hierarchies - one hierarchy for each collection in the archive.

The details on display will be of a record at a particular level of the hierarchy. There may be other records above, below, or alongside this record in the same hierarchy. The full hierarchy is shown below. Learn more about archive hierarchies. Books, manuscripts and archives in Special Collections are usually grouped together in collections. Catalogue records for individual objects link to a collection record, which show the object's context, and associated material.

You can see the full hierarchy under 'In this collection'. If you wish to include a link to this record from your own website or from within some other type of document, please use this link. Menu Search Claudius Mauger's Fr Alternative reference code case sensitive: This is the age of patois and witches, shepherds and millers, seigneurs and tithe-gatherers, salt-tax collectors and tipstaffs, barter and small transactions, moving at the speed of mule and wayfarer, of the seasons and the signs of the Zodiac, with a distant King and God who are the ultimate judges and the last resort and consolation.

Even a blurred sense of these ancient, ponderous presences is a step closer to penetrating a way of life and a pervasive traditional atmosphere that was only gradually destroyed by the deep rifts that appeared at scattered intervals in the late eighteenth, but mainly in the nineteenth, century. It is with the aim of bringing this ancient, complex, consistently chaotic universe into focus that this book has been written.

Its first objective is to dig down to the foundations, which will necessitate delving far back into the past, even if only to describe the society with which the mainstream of the ancien regime seems to be identified. Documents 21 Finally it will try to elucidate how the ancien regime grew old, how Society and State came gradually into conflict within it, and how it found itself in some sense out of step with new conditions in the half-century preceding the only Revolution that matters, the Revolution of When it is separated from all the acci- dents that have momentarily changed its aspect in different eras and in different lands, and viewed strictly in itself, it may clearly be seen that this revolution had the effect only of doing away with those political insti- tutions that had reigned unrivalled among most of the peoples of Europe for several centuries, and which are commonly referred to under the heading of feudal institutions, in order to replace them with a simple and more uniform political order, based on equality of conditions.

That was enough to make an immense revolution, for irrespective of the fact that the old institutions were stdl mingled and so to speak inter- twined with almost all the religious and political laws of Europe, they had in addition given rise to a host of ideas, feelings, habits and manners that were like loyal followers to them.

It needed a terrible convulsion to destroy and completely extirpate from the body social a part so bound up with all its organs.

This made the Revolution appear even greater than it was. What can truly be said of it is that it utterly destroyed everything in the old society that derived from aristocratic or feudal institutions, anything connected with them in any way, and anything that bore their slightest impress. Had it not taken place, the old social structure would still have crumbled, earlier in one place, later in another, only it would have gone on crumbling a piece at a time, instead of collapsing all at once.

It carried out a sizeable task. The period of ancien regime monarchy is one of the most brilliant in our history. But although it fulfilled a national task, k was unable to give its authority a national base, and remained a prisoner of the past. It retained the ancient character of an individual monarchy, and developed only by sapping the vitality of those institutions that might have acted as supports. It made the irreparable mistake of believing that it is enough for a govern- ment to be strong.

The administrative institutions created by Louis xiv and Colbert did not help matters: The monarchy of the ancien regime stood isolated against a changing society and became incapable of changing with it. Colin, , final pages. It is true that, whatever its form, the State exerts enormous influence over the destiny pf a country; often it may even pride itself on reshaping society in its own image; but it is also certain that the State and its policy did not create society. Of the two mainsprings of historical evolution, Society and State, it is quite clear that the old historians laid stress only on the latter, which was so powerful in their own times.

Perhaps modern historians, emulating the Ancients, living as they do in centralized, even despotic states, have been more prepared to study the institutions superimposed by the State than the structure, even the development, of modern societies. Yet in France, society was always very much alive.

A few historians have barely scratched the surface of an account of society for modern, contemporary Documents 23 France It is our concern to follow [its] evolution over two great cen- turies, a stage at a time, by pointing out the extent to which society acted on the State, and the State on society, under the rule of absolute monarchy.

Philippe Sagnac, La Formation de la societe franfaise moderne P. Anybody so taken in by the brilliant paradoxes of some journalists as to doubt this assertion may reflect on the authentic features of ancien regime society that modern historiography has unearthed. In many regions the most unpopular forms of the traditional social hierarchy have survived the Great Fear and the resentment of the peasants, under different names and different descrip- tions. Even in the mid-twentieth century, some areas where share- cropping [metayage once flourished, such as the Bourbonnais, have seen the con- tinuance of statutory labour for the chateau, and a statute for sharing out the fruits of the earth which was a faithful replica of the dues paid prior to Not to mention the public gestures of respect retained in addressing the tenant of the chateau, whoever the owner may be, and all the more if the Restoration returned the titled family of former times to its lands.

More, we can discover modes of behaviour that express relation- ships bound up with the social hierarchy of the ancien regime and that con- stitute the most glaring anachronisms in a supposedly democratic society. The finest example is undoubtedly provided by the obsession with hierarchy that activates all social relationships, codifies the structure of every pro- fession, constitutes the driving force of education, and is universally to be found on the verge of becoming a fundamental social reflex utterly opposed to the stated aspirations of contemporary society It might seem that the rise in standards of living and the decline of outward shows of distinc- tion come nearer to realizing the equality of conditions, if not of opportuni- ties, of which the men of dreamed, talked and legislated.

Yet these appearances are more than deceptive; they have disguised - they have been cultivated in order to disguise - the persistence of the overall social conditionings for which the ancien regime had provided the blueprint. The political importance of this continuity into our own times is obvious. In the still largely uncharted province of mental attitudes, the con- ditionings inherited from an older France are just as strongly felt. The single example of popular culture will suffice as an illustration.

Some remarkably permanent features have survived within it to this day, with no profound discontinuity: Polemical works devoted to the glorifiication or execration of the ancien regime ; their connection with history is strictly accidental even when they are written by Academicians. Most of the foreign studies of the ancien regime derive from a priori ideas, and are based on the most cursory inspection of French archives. Thus we are unable to accept R. Similarly, the much more subtle analysis of C. Behrens in The Ancien Regime Thames and Hudson, puts itself out of court when its author begins the ancien regime in , a schoolboy misconception.

Six books at most may be recommended. The first two are by great nineteenth- century writers whose insights go too deep to be superseded; the next two are painstaking works by precise, tradi- tional, if a little short-sighted historians ; the last two are thoroughly contemporary. Despite its age, omissions and biases, one of those rare books that bear the stamp of genius.

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Emile Bodin

Taine, Hippolyte, Les Origines de la France contemporaine, vol. Systematic, arguable, and anti-Tocqueville, but strikingly intelligent. Concise, penetrating, well-organized, but over-chronological, partly superseded, and stopping short at the curious date of 17x5. Sagnac, Philippe, La Formation de la societe franfaise moderne 2 vols. Long, detailed, always useful, but over- compartmented five periods for less than years ; often short- sighted, factually dated.

A dense, remarkably well-documented outline, and an indispensable introduction. Fresh, individual, excep- tionally intelligent, but unhappily too brief, and assuming a great deal of previous knowledge in its readership impressive range of allusion ; chapter 2 of Part Three socio-cultural and the whole of Part Four lines of research are particularly recommended. For the previous period, the Histoire de France, edited by Ernest Lavisse vol. Of the innumerable series devoted to general history founded z 6 The Ancien Regime between the two world wars, the following are still in use, for want of anything better: Of the more recent works based on fresh research, the following must suffice: Goubert, Pierre, Louis xiv et vingt millions de Franfais Fay- ard, 2 52 pp,, Lastly, it is advisable to consult any new publications in the two main French series devoted to new material: Colin ; and the excellent series published in English by O.

A number of reviews keep abreast of recent research. The principal French reviews are: Annales Economies, Societes, Civilisations A. Colin Revue Historique P. Revue d'Histoire moderne et contemporaine A. Plus numerous regional reviews. A number of foreign reviews now deal with French topics, and will be of interest to specialists; they include the Revue beige de philologie et d'histoire excellent and comprehensive book-reviews and The Economic History Review, probably the best of the lot.

Colin, 4 th edition , documents appended to chapter i , pp. Colin, , documents appended to the early chapters. As regards the cahiers de doleances, a selection is provided in Goubert, P. Ancien regime society needs no additional complications, and the historian does not deal in pre- established systems. He looks, describes, and tries to understand and explain. Our account of this society is not timed for the eve of its death: It has long ago developed demographic, economic, juridical and psychological patterns that are a guide to understanding it.

We are beginning to be familiar with the first two, which take pride of plctce in our examination; the rest will follow in good time. These geographical and human resources warrant a more than cursory description, because they condition everything else and because we are beginning to piece together a reliable picture of them. Here France lagged far behind better administered countries such as Spain and Sweden where the first censuses date from and , and even most of the Italian and some of the central European states.

Consequendy we only have rough estimates, none of them prior to All figures concocted and published for previous periods amount to pure guesswork. These rough estimates are of two kinds: These lists give the names and number of family-heads liable for taxation, and are consequently incomplete, since the wealthiest and the poorest usually escape. Furthermore they are not consistent, since the legislation differs from one tax to another, and worse still, from one province to another for any given tax.

In particular, we shall observe what a difference there could be between the taille of the Midi, levied on the amount of land owned, and that of the North, which embraces the landless but often overlooks the biggest landowners. The administrators usually put it at between 4 and 5, although they rarely inform us how and why they choose, or even which!

Vauban, the earliest, in his Project d'une dixme royale , collated his speculative estimates and came to the conclusion that in the years following , France minus Corsica and Lorraine, and of course Savoy and Nice had a population of slighdy more than nineteen million. Without embarking on a thoroughgoing study of the document genuine work for the historian, nevertheless , we shall confine ourselves to underlining three facts.

Fortu- nately they only affect the thousands, but they are disturbing. There were 23 by the time of Louis xiv, 53 in Bailiwick senesdtalcy in the Midi , dktiou and subdelegation were lesser subdivisions that often overlapped, and were supervised by bailiffs, dus and snbdHegues. The Deptographic Setting 3 3 arouse suspicions about the competence of cross-checking methods even at local level. Vauban himself realized that Paris could not possibly contain 7 20, inhabitants in it was fewer than half a million, in fact. It has been shown that the estimate for Brittany 1,, is a good twenty- five per cent too low, because it relied on the tax- rolls of the first capitation of It will soon be proved that the intendant Baville overestimated the population of Languedoc by consistently using the inflated coefficient of 5.

These few comments are enough. In addition, a few towns and hourgs and a number of rural areas were the object of a detailed house-by-house and person-by -person census. For the regions tested it was a simple matter to determine the relationship between the overall population and the average number of births and marriages celebrated. Extrapolation from these local figures then produces quite reliable overall estimates, most of which hover around the twenty-six million mark for the last years of the ancien regime.

There is no valid reason for doubting this estimate: The critical appraisal outlined above is more than an academic exercise. All the same, it does enable us to claim certain things as matters of fact. At the time when Vauban was compiling his statistics England had a population of from five to six million, Spain six to eight million, and the entire possessions of the Austrian Habsburgs perhaps eight million.

So France had two or three times as many people as any other state around ! But this overwhelming advantage decreased in the course of the eighteenth century, when the European population grew faster than the French, and disappeared altogether in the nineteenth century. With such a massive population France could have achieved a considerable military superiority, given the same technical resources, if conscription had been the basis of army recruitment.


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When some- thing like it was introduced by the Jourdan Law of , Europe leamt its lesson the hard way. In fact, the substantial material advantages that the French mon- archy derived from its host of subjects was the envy of foreign kings. Around twenty million people, twelve million of them pro- ductive and almost as many taxable, are an invaluable power base. It was enough for these subjects not to be positively destitute, and for them to agree to pay their taxes, to ensure that both the undertakings of government war included and the future of the country should give no serious cause for concern.

Now the fiscal system, which from our point of view was cmshing, unfair and inefficient, was even- tually accepted, after considerable resistance which will be Illustrated at a later point in this book. And except in certain social strata, cer- tain regions and certain years, the people went on living, working and paying.

On the basis of close local analyses that cannot be gone into here, it is even held that inside the same frontiers the realm main- tained this level of around twenty million inhabitants roughly between ij jo and 17 jo, despite alternating, complex fluctuations The Demographic Setting 3 5 in either direction. Which would indicate that the superiority was still more marked before than after And the constancy of this figure gives grounds for maintaining that in spite of so many grievous outward appearances and tragic episodes, the relative prosperity of the realm was a major factor in its strength.

The simplest explanation of this extraordinary pros- perity - for its time, that is, and allowing for all provincial variations — is undoubtedly the best. Some credit may go to the variety and advantages of climate, soil and water, as well as the bravery and ingenuity of the individual Frenchman, but much more incisive is the notion of population density.

In a realm the size of France an average density of more than a hundred inhabitants per square mile was remarkably high, although it may seem unimpressive in twentieth- century terms. Apart from a few small, atypical areas - coasts, vaUeys, polders and urban areas - it was the highest in the world before The wealthiest regions in Europe - in particular Flanders and the Low Countries, but also including the London basin, Rhineland Germany, and Paduan and Florentine Italy - barely exceed this figure, over far smaller areas.

The level of French development is evidence of the combined qualities of nature and human beings, but what it indicates above all is that a fundamental balance has been achieved. This optimal balance is that between the economy and the popu- lation, and it must have altered very little in the two centuries from ijjoto A hundred people per square mile is what France was able to support, given its type of production, technological level, kinds of consumption and physical and mental usages.

It is adapted to an economy in which nothing basic has changed cf. Chapter Three , and to demographic conditions that have been difficult to uncover but are starting to emerge with some clarity. These demographic conditions could, with slight variations, be those of the white. Catholic populations of the temperate zone: This involves an obvious danger: Malthus, following in the footsteps of various adminis- trators, expressed this pattern clearly, but a little late in the day.

Catastrophes strike suddenly and violently, reducing the population to the level demanded by its material circumstances, and sometimes well below. For this reason it is necessary to dwell upon them at greater length. For several months, sometimes a year, occasionally longer, the number of funeral processions in a parish, bailiwick or one or more provinces would double, triple, or worse. From ten to twenty per cent of the population sometimes more went to their graves.

In addition, the afflicted areas were characterized by exceptionally high mobility, as the poor, the panic-stricken, the unemployed and great numbers of children scattered along the highways and byways in search of help, which usually meant bread. After a few months or a year, the reverse phenomena emerged, apparently in compensation. This repeated phenomenon has been the subject of any number of inquiries. The current conclusions are roughly as follows: The problem of the real effect of wars on the French population has been obscured by literature and sensationalism.

The actual year-by-year balance-sheet of provinces spared, provinces ravaged and provinces crossed by armies was never drawn up. With the exception of a very few provinces such as Languedoc and Bur- gundy, the real effects of the wars of religion are unknown, and the opinion of historians is completely divided on this subjea. More is known about the effects of the Thirty Years War, but the horrors that have been described so often and illustrated in the engravings of Callot were strictly confined to the northern and in particular the eastern provinces of the realm; all the rest, which is to say the great majority, were spared.

After the Frondes, which require further study, and which devastated only a few quite restricted areas, war seldom encroached inside the frontiers of France, while armies were reorganized and better discipHned. In any case, it became more and more exceptional for wars to set in motion the typical demographic crises that we have described, and they tended instead to produce temporary exoduses. Plague, bubonic or pneumonic, was endemic throughout France 3 8 The Ancien Regime until about i6jo, occasionally springing to life here and there in brief, appalling outbreaks. In the course of a few weeks, always in summertime the rat- fleas that harbour the virus cannot survive in cold conditions , a clear-cut group of parishes, in rare cases a whole province, might lose a quarter, a third, sometimes half of its popu- lation.

After the plague retreated and disappeared throughout most of the country, and its last incursions, from the North and the Orient Marseille, , were contained by efficient and commendable administrative action. And in fact it does seem to have been replaced by other serious epidemics, which appeared under Louis xiv and often persisted well into the eighteenth century.

There are indications of probable smallpox, diphtheria, typhus and typhoid fever preceding the cholera of the nineteenth century. But these epidemics do not follow the well-known sequence of the classical demographic crisis: The true demographic crisis, as studied principally in northern, eastern and central France, where the population is densest and grain is the standard crop, stems from a series of climatic accidents usually high summer rainfall in a given socio-economic context.

Successive harvests have been poor and have not stored well; provisions have given out; the price of grain, and therefore of bread - the basic food- stuffs - has gone on rising, generally doubling, often tripling and quadrupling. Epidemic diseases of the digestive system break out and are spread by beggars, pedlars, soldiers and vermin. The incidence of starvation pure and simple is far higher than was once thought. Hopes of a better crop, the The Demographic Setting 39 harvest, the first threshing and finally the onset of winter prevail both over the famine and the chain of epidemics it has abetted or caused.

These mechanisms are so far-reaching as to enable them to be considered as a pointer to economic and social structures and even mental attitudes. When a number of provinces are suflFering from famine, an appeal for extra grain will move too slowly, be answered too slowly, and the grain will tend to be delivered spoiled and at too high a price. Slow, dear transportation, even by water, is obviously one of the basic features of the economy of the time. We shall return to it in the following chapter. Various features of collective psychology are partly instrumental here, but in addition panic fear of shortages and starvation, fed by collective and often exaggerated memories of former famines, is nevertheless encouraged by the tac- tics of cunning monopoleurs the word dates from these times , who were occasionally identified, more often blindly denounced.

Panics are one of the basic features of the ancien regime, and they partly outlived it. The supremacy of flour, whatever its colour usually grey or black , constitutes a serious weakness, and the great plains that grow cereals and little else are most at risk. We shall come back to this point in Chapter Five.

The absence or paucity of popular treasuries, like the incapacity of available resources to deal with the sudden periods of high prices, points both to the inefficiency of the economic mecha- nisms and to the extreme inequality of social conditions. This indicates that the non- agricultural sectors of the economy are dependent upon the agri- cultural and especially upon the grain-producing sector - another long-lived basic feature of the economy until the early nineteenth century , and one that we shall encounter again and again.

Suggestive though this analysis is, it must not lead us to sup- pose that these crises always follow a final procedure without variation in time or place. The pattern shifts continually. All sorts of climatic, astronomic and economic hypotheses have been put for- The Demographic Setting 4 1 ward to account for this quasi regularity, but none of them rings really true. One thing is certain, however: Some of them must have affected the whole of Europe , The famous crisis of 3—4 spared the Medi- terranean south, which tended to benefit from the rainy summers that elsewhere prevented the corn from ripening or rotted it where it stood.

Even the 'grand hyver' of spared Brittany, with its extensive coasdine. Thus plagues and epidemics were always localized. Yet in the course of the eighteenth century these basic mechanisms gradually began to break down, clearly proving that general con- ditions were inexorably changing.

After grain shortages became less acute, and it was excep- tional for the price of bread to double. At the same time, the improve- ment which had begun in better-off regions such as Brittany, Normandy and the whole of the Midi slowly spread to the rest of the country. The turning-point lies somewhere in the decade between and The dreaded old periodic curse reared its head again here and there in feeble or vigorous outbreaks around , under the Revolution and Empire, and sometimes later still, but it was no longer the great scourge of ages past. Something had changed, whether in the nature, level, yield or cost of production, the speed or cost of transportation, the resources of the consumer or perhaps in government policy.

True, there was still a direct and much- criticized connection between agricultural crisis, however mild, and slump in industry, particularly in textiles, but already these were relics of the past. But 42 The Ancien Regime with the decline of the great demographic crises, a centuries-old world was fading, giving way to a new world in which the ancien regime would falter and finally collapse.

After at least, the regular succession of large-scale purges began to tail off, and the French population began to change and grow. Now that the brakes were off, France managed at last to take off from its twenty- million plateau. Its stagnant economy followed suit, and not before time. These two new drives combined to propel the ageing realm along a trajectory of expansion, but this was not until late in the eighteenth century, when the ancien regime was nearing its end. And the ancien regime is undoubtedly typified by stability more than by movement - again, that is, before The pre- cise pattern of quartier, messuage, garden, field, grazing- and even waste-land remained essentially the same; all the elements in a meticulously laid-out landscape held fast.

There was no real change until the great urban explosion and rural redistribution of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The principal alterations to this landscape have been lengthily described by historians, but add up to nothing more ambitious than the drainage of marshes and lakes, a task performed mainly by the Dutchmen called in by Henri iv; the slow retreat of the forest compensated by reafforestation and con- The Demographic Setting 4 3 servation measures, thanks to the efforts of efficient forestry- workers and to Colbert ; changes of fashion in landscaping and the Mediter- ranean garrigues and a few clearance projects that were unimportant or short-lived even in the time of the physiocrats.

With the exception of Le Havre, Richelieu and Versailles, no new towns were built. During the two or three centuries of the ancien regime, the delicate architecture of the French landscape was a permanent fixture, an immense, age-old tapestry retouched only with a few stitches here and there. Emigration is wholly ac- counted for by twenty or thirty thousand southerners in Spain exactly 2, Catalonia in , a few thousand adventurers in the first colonies, a far greater number of Protestants scattered almost everywhere ,, perhaps ,?

Inside France there was a small annual movement of servant-girls, apprentices and once more adventurers from country to town, the migrations of some tens of thousands of beggars, and a smaller number of soldiers except after Louvois, to whom we shall return later , and the hill-dweUers who came and went but generally returned to their native villages.

Nineteen and a half out of twenty million people remained bound to the land, plot, hut, cottage or quartier where they grew up. Old France is characterized not by unrest, social mobility and popular migration, but by sedentariness. Except for the perennial adventurers, people only became mobile when driven by necessity, which usually meant destitution. Chapter Five, section 2.

Le Roman de Jacques Bonhomme, laboureur (Terroirs classiques) (French Edition)

In this parish at least three quarters of the newlyweds were born and lived in the place where they were joined in marriage; of the other quarter, half come from next-door villages, and even the most intrepid travellers have come less than ten miles to be wed. Such powerful and predominant stability often lasted until the early twentieth century although to a diminishing extent, of course: Stability and sedentariness are not always the rule, and naturally it is the towns and ports - and of course Paris, always a special case - that provide the exceptions to an essentially peasant trait.

No peasant will voluntarily leave his land, be it only half a furrow, and we know that France was more than eighty per cent peasant, and that relatively few were completely landless. The fierce peasant deep-rootedness of the French people probably explains their habitual hostility both towards naval enterprise and military service, even in the embryonic form of the militia, which they found perplexing and disturbing.

This rootedness nevertheless begins to loosen in the later eighteenth century an unusual era in every respect , and the very same study of marriage contracts, to- gether with other sources, now reveals increased mobility and a greater frequency, distance and number of population-shifts, although these are stiU in the minority. Yet this is still a far cry from the military or other migrations under the Revolution and the Empire, and from the great industrial migrations of the following century. Granted the countless little ebbs and flows of parish and district life, stability of landscape, habitats, inhabitants and probably of numbers of inhabitants is a paramount aspect of ancien regime France between the early seventeenth and the mid- eighteenth century.

From then onward, the tremors begin. The data for and are incomplete; 2. Many child-burials probably remained unregistered throughout the Midi. Buried 4 March , the child of the late Bignon, dead of actual starvation. Buried 2 January , in our church, the child of the late Jean Vedys, died of starvation in a cowshed. Buried in our cemetery 20 January , a man named David and his wife, died of starvation at Les Chamois, together with a man named La Graviere, died of starvation.

PriceMinister - Erreur

Buried in our cemetery on the first day of March , Jacques Drouin, died of starvation. Buried in our cemetery in March , Anne Rochette, who died of starvation with her two children. Buried in our cemetery 28 April , the son of the late Jacques Drouin, died of starvation, like his father. Documents 47 Buried in our cemetery i May , the wife of the late Jacques Drouin, who died of starvation like her husband and son. Buried in our cemetery 30 April , Jean Peieleu, called le Cles, who died of starvation. Buried in our cemetery 2 May , the daughter of La Pelaude, dead of starvation like her sister and brother.

And since the poor people were exhausted in like measure by the frequent demands of His Majesty and by these exorbitant taxes [the reference is to wartime levies], they fell into such poverty as might just as well be called famine. Happy the man who could lay hands on a measure of rye to mix with oats, peas and beans and make bread to half fill his belly. I speak of two thirds of this village, if not more. Throughout this time, the talk was all of thieves, murders and people dying of starvation. I do not know if it is to the credit of the cure of Rume- gies to refer here to a death which occurred in his parish during that time: This poor fellow was a widower; people thought that he was not as poor as he was; he was burdened with three children.

He fell ill, or rather he grew worn-out and feeble, but nobody informed the cure, until one Sunday, upon the final bell for mass, one of his sisters came and told the cure that her brother was dying of starvation, and that was all she said. The pastor gave her some bread to take to him forthwith, but perhaps the sister had need of it for herself, as seems likely to be the case.

She did not take it to him, and at the second bell for vespers the poor man died of starvation. He was the only one to drop dead for want of bread, but several others died of that cause a little at a time, both here and in other villages, for that year saw a great mortality. In our parish alone, more people died than in several ordinary years. Truly men wearied of being of this world. The ordinance made by His Majesty for the relief of his poor people [20 October ] cannot be forgotten here. Every community had to 48 The Ancien Regime feed its poor. The pastors, mayors and men of law taxed the wealthiest and the middling, each according to his capability, in order to succour the poor, whom it was also their duty to seek out.

It was the right way to keep every- body provided In this village, where there is no court and everybody is his own master, the cure' read out and re-read that ordinance to no avail. The mayeurs and men of law, who were the richest and would therefore have to be taxed most, fought it with all their might.

With much hardship, August was finally reached. A fortnight Beforehand, people were har- vesting the rye when it was still green, and putting it in ovens to dry it, and because this grain was unripe and unhealthy it caused several serious illnesses. May the Lord in his fatherly Providence vouchsafe us to be pre- served henceforward from a like dearth. The problem is that of the effects of food shortages on the demography of ancien regime France. How are we to isolate mortality due to food shortages?

The thoroughly scientific caution of the author of the Reflexions will be remarked. He be- gins with a statement of fact, the coincidence of the maxima of grain prices with the annual maxima of the death-rate, but rounds it off by adding that these years also show the highest rate of disease. It would therefore be a thankless task to attempt statistically to locate a specific distinction among facts so closely linked as those of death through actual starvation, through illness attributable to under-nourishment and lastly through contagion, when this contagion is itself inseparable from the state of famine that was instru- mental not only in inducing but also in spreading diseases by way of the shifting population of beggars.

These years are easy to single out. The order of magnitude of the pheno- mena concerned is such that there is any amount of corroborative testimony, and even historians who pay slight attention to the study of economic and Further Reading 49 social realities can hardly overlook events such as those of and , In any case, there is a quite considerable number of monographs that leave no doubt as to the cause- and-effect relationship between rising prices, hardship and mortality. The age of Louis xiv saw the onset of a type of widespread food shortage whose character is so exceptionally clear-cut that it would suffice by itself to differentiate it.

Similarly, the ratio of deaths to births shows an increase There can be no doubt as to the nation-wide character of the crisis. In the age of Louis xv, and still more of Louis xvi, everything changes. Gone are the obvious correlations between the price-maxima and the demographic indices.

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If there is still a demographic problem of food-supply, it is of an altogether different magnitude, and this quantitative difference is of itself a qualitative one. Between the age of mortal and of stillborn crises, a revolution has occurred. First, the basic books most of these have gone through several editions, and the most recent is therefore recommended.

Sauvy, Alfred, La Population P. Landry, Adolphe, Manuel de demographie Payot, several eds. Armengaud, Andre, Demographie et Societh Stock, Huber, Bunle and B over at. La Population de la France Hachette, several eds. Sauvy, Alfred, Theorie generale de la population P. Contains several first-rate articles on French subjects.

For keeping abreast of new developments: First, the numerous publications of the I. Over the last ten years or so, a fair number of doctoral theses devoted to ancien regime France have included one or more chapters of historical demography. See Chapter Three, Further Reading, section 2. This problem looks like yet another rhetorical exercise, but it was indeed at the time when economic structures were beginning to take off into expansion and industrialization, after the mid- eighteenth century, that the ageing political and social system started to crumble.

The problem does therefore warrant examination. The prospect is open-ended, and unlikely to provide any easy solutions. Three methods have been suggested for achieving this objective. The first is of very long standing, and amounts to putting oneself in the shoes of the theoreticians and administrators and registering and reproducing the systems of the former and the declarations of intent of the latter. Theory is primarily evidence about the theoreticians and their followers; legislative documents, like administrative papers, are mostly evidence about their host- environment, and consequently run the risk of presenting a picture of millions of Frenchmen that is slanted and partial.

Marczewski and his adherents have recently put forward a second method in a daring effort to bring to bear on the past tech- niques of statistics and economic analysis belonging to the later twentieth century. The last method is humbler, slower, but reliable.

Thanks to a num- ber of first-rate account ledgers, mainly ecclesiastical in origin, whose preservation was luckily institutionalized by confiscation at the time of the Revolution, it is possible in this case to use the quan- titative method, and with real exactitude, at the level of the parish or group of parishes. In other words, the patient historian gains in reliability what he loses in scope and ambitiousness, and since his objective is to seek out the truth, he is now performing his proper task. A series of such micro-analyses over the last ten years or so have gradually assembled an image of the old French economy well- grounded enough for him to put forward the ensuing provisional and elementary synthesis.

Provisional, because it is always open to ex- pansion or correction by current or future research; elementary in the deliberately scholarly sense of the word, because it is mainly ad- dressed to young people in the later twentieth century, who must learn to put themselves into an unfamiliar context. Here are just a few of the most elementary data: Wood and wicker predominate; leather is rarer, and is often found in the form of harness for the horse, a frail, expensive animal; iron is quite exceptional, and is of poor quality if manufactured inside the realm.

Except among the wealthy, meals are prepared and eaten off earthenware and wood. Again except among the wealthy, or in provinces with their own supply of stone, houses are of wood or a mixture of clay and straw, the basic building material even in the towns.

Spades, rakes, rollers, harrows and even large ploughs apart from the ploughshare are made of wood, which is also the only fuel, bar- ring localized variations like coal, peat or dried cow-dung. These are commonplace observations, but their significance is far-reaching. After sifting out a few thousand celebrated exceptions bankers, big merchants, ship-owners , these fortunes are almost always composed of an overwhelming majority of stored rural products, rural assets and various kinds of rural revenue.

The State budget itself is mainly replenished by direct or indirect levies on rural or agricultural pro- duction, taken at source or while in circulation. This sequence holds true at least until the Revolution, and it is only after the mid-nineteenth century or thereabouts the exact timing is still disputed that the chain of consequences and dependent effects is reversed: These obvious but essential distinc- tions will keep recurring in this and the following chapters. At the same time, it is worth repeating and analysing to some degree the concomitant statement that most of the producers in this sector were country-dwellers, in fact peasants whose main employment was agricultural.

Even in Picardy, the number of wool- workers dotted about the countryside undoubtedly tended more and more to exceed those who clustered around the urban work- shops, while numerous detailed studies have shown that the weavers of hemp and linen, from Flanders to the Vendee, were nearly aU peasants, and quite lowly ones at that. Even the labour-force of the metal-working sector consisted for the most part of seasonal, mi- grant workers of rural origin, not only as providers of labour for the forges and furnaces these include the essential and longer- establish- ed charcoal-burners , but also as specialists - in the manufacture of Normandy pins, for instance.

The operations of bleaching, dyemg, finishing and stockpiling the finished article prior to marketing were more often carried out in the towns. There were even a num- ber of manufacturing towns often big trading centres too, but not always ,, such as LiUe, Amiens, Beauvais, Rouen, Rheims and Lyons, 56 The Ancien Regime in which there was a genuine worker proletariat, well- documented from this time onward.

These conditions foreshadow those which become the norm in the factories of the nineteenth century, although the total number of wage- earners may not have amounted to more than a hundred thousand before In spite of the isolated trials stimulated mainly by military demand in the sixteenth century and later under Colbert, French metal-working remains slight, scattered, of poor quality and very expensive. It does not modernize until after , when it begins to copy English tech- niques, never manages to produce genuine steel except perhaps at Rives, in Dauphine , and depends on foreign countries even for scythes, which are imported from Styria.

Its com- parative predominance is the result of various factors: We must not be misled by the existence of a few institutions of great prestige, but not very great profitability, such as the great royal tapestry workshops of Gobelins or Beauvais. Over a mil- lion men, women and children worked either full- or part-time, and The Economic Base 57 whole towns hummed to the rhythm of the loom, particularly in the North, where Amiens is the best-known and best- documented example.

As for coarse linen, it was woven in every village, just as practically every garden gave room to its hemp-patch. For all these reasons, the dispersed yet massive strength of the textile industry played a far more important role than its output apparently not even five per cent of the gnp and working force probably not much more than five per cent of the population would suggest.

Progress was slow at first, especially in the traditional sectors, but the overall rate of expansion must still have worked out at around sixty per cent for the eighteenth century as a whole. The English model and the superior performance of a few expand- ing key-sectors cotton, printed fabrics, iron- working, paper and the beginnings of the chemical industry were to elicit and sustain this decisive leap forward, which seemed bound finally to signalize the last years of the outgoing century at the very moment when, politically and socially, the ancien regime was digging in its heels, not believing that it was on the verge of collapse.

Levy- Leboyer tends to indicate. Once again, we have noticed the contrast between the last dec- ades and here even the dynamic last years of the eighteenth century and the quasi static or slowly fluctuating patterns which had typified well-nigh all the ancien regime - a leitmotiv that appears again in our next area of study. The first thing that strikes someone living in the last third of the twentienth century is how slowly things move, rarely averaging more than two or three miles an hour for any kind of journey be- fore Whatever the emergency, the fastest journeys rarely cover more than twenty-five miles a day.

Goods move even more sluggishly: The tempo of Hfe in ancien regime France was not markedly faster than in the Middle Ages, and went at the pace of man, mule or plodding horse. The canals three in LOCAL HIGHWAYS The busiest and certainly the most useful roads in the circumstances of the time were the now disused multitudes of footpaths, mule- paths and local roads whose origins are lost in time, the straightest being generously credited to the Romans. No village was without its links with the neighbouring bourg and market, whether by sentier single-file footpath , carriere eight feet wide in Clermont; accord- ing to local custom, open to carts in single file and roped animals or sometimes even a true voye, theoretically sixteen feet wide.

Some of these routes had special names and functions: The drailles sheep trails of the Cevennes, transhumance paths, port- ages, salt and contraband paths However, the volume of this traffic was certainly much less than the above-mentioned: Apart from the pave du Roy and a few urban paved surfaces the Orleans road, chateau avenues, entrances to towns , the roads are little more than somewhat wider dirt pathways, with their usual drawbacks - dust or mud according to the time of year, wooden bridges, often broken down, or even just fords, innumerable road- tolls but heavily reduced in the course of the eighteenth century , and frequent danger for the traveller, as much in the forest of Fontainebleau as in remote mountain areas.

The numerous bodies responsible for their upkeep are continually quarrelling among them- selves and habitually inefficient, so that it is by no means unusual to break an axle or to lose horses and baggage. No produce or mer- chandise, no matter how light, will stand the cost of transport over a distance greater than fifteen miles or so; this applies to building materials, wines even Burgundian , and especially to grain and timber: The main roads mostly carry small expensive articles, well-to-do travellers, and letters and packets for which the Royal Mail has held the monopoly since the time of Louis xni - a monopoly exploited by wily businessmen and even by some minis- ters, Louvois among them.

The reason was simple, and here Vauban expounds it: Thus it has been clearly shown by Roger Dion that the only vineyards of The Economic Base 6i any account at the time were those which had easy access to the sea, a good river — or a thirsty town, like Paris. Yet these favoured connections are on a fairly moderate scale. At Orleans, a road and river junction situated on what was at the time one of the busiest rivers in France, an average of about four hun- dred boats a year passed through in the time of Louis xiv: And most of these boats go downstream never to return, being broken up and sold as lumber or firewood when they reach the estuary.

Nevertheless, ships grow bigger and trade expands in the course of the eighteenth century, and the big shipowners and small companies of their enthusiastic financial backers begin to play an economic and sometimes a political role that is no longer out of the ordinary. The difference is one of degree far more than of structure, and is due principally to the slave-trade and to sugar from the West Indies, particularly from San Domingo, pearl of the French economy and mainstay of its prosperity. Once again, how- ever, it is a declining regime that lights its way to death with the riches of the Caribbean.

Transport under the ancien regime is small-scale, irregular, ex- pensive, unsafe and unevenly distributed: They foster the fragmen- tation and the semi-isolation of the great peasant, provincial, uneven, uncoordinated mosaic that France then was. Taken together, they 62 The Ancien Regime are also a conclusive explanation of the difficulty that besets the ruler of the nation, who needs to ensure that decisions made at the centre are known and observed.

In spite of the royal mail and ex- press couriers, the villages of France are days and weeks away from Paris and Versailles; travelling in either direction is often a chancy business. The taste for provincial independence and indivi- dual conservatism was well protected. The mone- tary unit was the livre tournois minted at Tours , which supplanted the livre parish minted in Paris in the sixteenth century. The value of the livre is often expressed in grams of silver: We must now list a few of the factors that complicate this over- simplified picture.

The value of each coin was fixed by royal ordinance, a convenient method of devaluation, since it was only necessary to ordain that such and such an ku would henceforward count as four livres instead of three. But real improvements in the minting process took place towards the mid- seventeenth century. Mints of this type were operating at Sedan, Charleville, Orange and the Dombes weU into the seventeenth century. This circulation was legally valid, and every foreign coin was assigned an official and often also a black-market exchange- rate.

Wholesale speculation had the end-result of driving good money out of circulation and of giving rise to complicated speculative pro- cesses that were not always to the advantage of the economy. A kind of imaginary ecu of three livres represented French coinage on the foreign mar- kets, particularly in Amsterdam. It was usually quoted below the official domestic rate, notably throughout most of the seventeenth century. When the livre tournoh suc- ceeded the livre parish, the coinage worked as in pre-decimal England: In other words, the day-to-day handling of coinage in old France took the kind of expertise that probably not two men in a hundred possessed.

Here again the position clarified after , but the truth is that for most Frenchmen the problem was always quite simple: Monetary phenomena become intelligible only when they are put back into their social frameworks, which have not yet been defined. However, it is neither rash nor premature to assert that within the extremes of affluence which then existed, money posed quite different sets of problems.

For them, wealth equals crops, in all their forms; they make up for what they lack by means of barter or extra work. Money is only a supplement to barter and is often not used at all.

These existed in considerable numbers, and often changed hands, thereby constituting a kind of local currency - real currency expressed in livres and sols toumois — which makes them more reliable than the second-rate metal coins whose value was open to debate. In the lowly rural settings that contained the major- ity of the population, barter, the exchange of services and the circulation and withdrawal of private lOUS certainly played a more prominent part than did the ecu or the louis; the billon would often take care of any differences.

But all these small peasants were liable to various fiscal obliga- The Economic Base 65 tions. Whereas the tithe-owner and often the seigneur were happy with payments in kind and direct appropriations from the harvest, the king could hardly cart loads of sheaves all over the realm, and required hard cash. Money was used, partly for fiscal reasons, in the lowly unreliable form of the billon and minor silver coins. Ecus and louts d'or must have been treasure, to be brought out and displayed as the family sat up in the evening, and jealously guarded so as to make up a dowry, or buy a field.

In popular settings, money was distinguished by its rarity, low quality and poor circulation. After or thereabouts a pronounced change set in. Even fairly modest peasants turned up in some numbers to bid for farm- holdings whose soaring prices easily doubled in one generation. Better coinage was consequently circulating more freely and its dis- tribution was broader and quicker.

The new Brazilian mines, a four-fold increase in trade, rising prices, an indeterminate improve- ment in the growth-rate anything from twenty to sixty per cent, according to the experts , and greater general prosperity - these were the probable factors behind a kind of resurgence which, yet again, does not make its appearance until the latter half of the eigh- teenth century. Scarcity still exists, although in an altered form, but the main prob- lems are those of disorganization.

Merchants and Ministers in the era of Louis xiv complained a 66 The Ancien Regime great deal about the scarcity of currency, particularly of sound cur- rency.


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These grumbles were fairly well-founded, if difficult to interpret, and hinge upon the fall in production and frequent de- valuations. A number of deeper causes relating to the poor circula- tion of currency and organization of credit are often overlooked. From this point of view, France lagged well behind those countries which were in the forefront of modern trading and financial tech- niques first Italy, then the Low Countries and England , for rea- sons which are hard to diagnose.

As far back as the Middle Ages, the businessmen of the great Italian city-states had perfected a system of compensatory credit payments among merchants in far-removed localities with different monetary systems. This was the bill of exchange, which quickly turned into an instrument of credit and a means of speculation.

The practice of endorsement very soon made it into a type of currency with an international circulation among merchants and even among states, and capable of yielding interest to anybody with the skill to manipulate exchange-rate variations in time and place.

Le Roman de Jacques Bonhomme, laboureur (Terroirs classiques) (French Edition) Le Roman de Jacques Bonhomme, laboureur (Terroirs classiques) (French Edition)
Le Roman de Jacques Bonhomme, laboureur (Terroirs classiques) (French Edition) Le Roman de Jacques Bonhomme, laboureur (Terroirs classiques) (French Edition)
Le Roman de Jacques Bonhomme, laboureur (Terroirs classiques) (French Edition) Le Roman de Jacques Bonhomme, laboureur (Terroirs classiques) (French Edition)
Le Roman de Jacques Bonhomme, laboureur (Terroirs classiques) (French Edition) Le Roman de Jacques Bonhomme, laboureur (Terroirs classiques) (French Edition)
Le Roman de Jacques Bonhomme, laboureur (Terroirs classiques) (French Edition) Le Roman de Jacques Bonhomme, laboureur (Terroirs classiques) (French Edition)
Le Roman de Jacques Bonhomme, laboureur (Terroirs classiques) (French Edition) Le Roman de Jacques Bonhomme, laboureur (Terroirs classiques) (French Edition)
Le Roman de Jacques Bonhomme, laboureur (Terroirs classiques) (French Edition) Le Roman de Jacques Bonhomme, laboureur (Terroirs classiques) (French Edition)
Le Roman de Jacques Bonhomme, laboureur (Terroirs classiques) (French Edition) Le Roman de Jacques Bonhomme, laboureur (Terroirs classiques) (French Edition)
Le Roman de Jacques Bonhomme, laboureur (Terroirs classiques) (French Edition) Le Roman de Jacques Bonhomme, laboureur (Terroirs classiques) (French Edition)

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