The Abolition of Feudalism: Peasants, Lords, and Legislators in the French Revolution

By John Markoff | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
1

INTRODUCTION: GRIEVANCES, INSURRECTIONS, LEGISLATION

In the 1780s young men seeking employment under Alpine lords used to place notices in the ad columns of the DauPhiné Announcements vaunting their fine handwriting, their skill in mathematics, their moral character, their knowledge of Latin, their respectable families and, of course, their grasp of the intricacies of land surveys, the law of fiefs, and seigneurial rights.1 In 1967, a villager in Upper Provence, whose family had lived there a long time, was heard to tell of the day in December 1789--the story was nowhere written down in any detail--when a boisterous group of villagers marched to the local chàteau, dug a hole in the courtyard, and informed the lord that his continuing refusal to make a written renunciation of his rights would straightway lead to throwing him in. ( Monsieur de Robert complied.)2

____________________
1
Jean Nicolas, "Le paysan et son seigneur en Dauphiné à la veille de la Révolution", in La France d'ancien régime: Etudes réunies en l'honneur de Pierre Goubert ( Toulouse: Privat, 1984), 2:497.
2
Daniel Solakian, "Mouvements contestataires de communautés agro-pastorales de HauteProvence au XVIIIe siècle dans le témoignage écrit et la mémoire collective"-

-1-

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