The French Revolution and Napoleon: A Sourcebook

By Philip G. Dwyer; Peter McPhee | Go to book overview

9

THE PEASANTRY AND THE RURAL ENVIRONMENT

The Rural Code, September 1791

The peasant revolution continued after 1789 because the National Assembly had not completely abolished feudalism. Also at stake were wider questions about ownership, control and use of rural resources. The legislators in the National Assembly believed in the sanctity of private property, but also recognised the strength of peasant attachment to collective practices, such as wood gathering in forests. This confusion was evident in a key piece of legislation passed in late September 1791. In the Rural Code the deputies decreed that collective practices such as droit de parcours (allowing livestock access across private land) and vaine pâture (sending livestock to graze on private fallow land) could not oblige owners of livestock to leave them as part of a communal herd, nor could individuals be prevented from enclosing their land for their private use. However, they also acknowledged the continued existence of collective practices.

TITLE 1 Of rural goods and customs

SECTION 1 On general principles of landed property

Article 1. The territory of France, in all its area, is free, as are the people who inhabit it; thus any landed property can only be subject, with regard to individuals, to taxes and charges whose agreement is not forbidden by the law, and, with regard to the nation, to the public contributions established by the legislative body, and to the sacrifices that the general good can demand, on condition of a just and previously agreed compensation.

Property owners are free to vary at their will the cultivation and management of their lands, to keep their harvests as they wish, and to dispose of all the products of their property within the kingdom and outside it, without harming the rights of others, and while conforming with the law.

-80-

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The French Revolution and Napoleon: A Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations xi
  • Preface xiii
  • A Note on the Revolutionary Calendar xv
  • Chronology xvi
  • 1 - The Ancien Régime Challenged 1
  • 2 - Revolutionary Action 16
  • 3 - Creating a Regenerated France 24
  • 4 - Exclusions and Inclusions 35
  • 5 - The Church and the Revolutionary State 43
  • 6 - Monarchy and Revolution 51
  • 7 - The Revolution at War 60
  • 8 - The End of the Monarchy 68
  • 9 - The Peasantry and the Rural Environment 80
  • 10 - A New Civic Culture 84
  • 11 - The Republic at War 90
  • 12 - Revolt in the Vendée 97
  • 13 - The Terror at Work 103
  • 14 - The Thermidorian Reaction 115
  • 15 - The Directory 121
  • 16 - Bonaparte 128
  • 17 - Law and Order 140
  • 18 - Rule by Plebiscite 149
  • 19 - Governing the Empire 155
  • 20 - Resistance and Repression 169
  • 21 - The Russian Catastrophe 175
  • 22 - Collapse 187
  • 23 - The Hundred Days 193
  • 24 - French Men and Women Reflect 202
  • Index 209
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