By P. M. Jones

It is a examine of rural society, with specific connection with the peasantry. It makes a speciality of a space of France that's outlined because the southern Massif critical, the 4 departments forming the southern perimeter of the highland plateau of vital France, and spans a century which marked the apogee of peasant civilisation during this sector and which witnessed the revolutions of 1789 and 1848. The ebook adopts a widely cultural definition of the peasantry, and gives a finished account of the rhythms of rural lifestyles over a few 3 or 4 generations. besides the fact that, the most emphasis is at the political responses of the peasantry in an age of progressive experimentation with democratic associations. As such the ebook is a social historical past of political behaviour on the grass roots.

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Additional resources for Politics in the Rural Society: The Southern Massif Central c.1750-1880

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FlbI 258; F lb Aveyron 3. opposite conclusion: the regions of scattered settlement were the natural habitat of the small peasant proprietor — a vigorous breed of independent means and radical instincts. The bourg poses further problems. In the bocage of Upper Brittany24 they were neither numerous nor influential, apparently, but in Provence they dominated the landscape. Indeed, in the opinion of Maurice Agulhon25 they played a crucial role in the unfolding political consciousness of the Mediterranean littoral.

The Revolution scarcely modified this secular trend. Monastic estates were swiftly dismembered, but the territorial strength of the nobility and rural bourgeoisie weathered the political storms with remarkable ease. Surveyors and administrators used a variety of square and volume measurements to assess property which have a few advantages, but many shortcomings. They facilitate rough comparisons between localities, but were often inaccurate when applied to slope and terrace agriculture. More seriously, they presuppose criteria of performance and viability which were alien to mountain husbandry.

The population of the bourgs ringing the pastures of the Aubrac had peaked in most cases by the 1830s. Beyond the bourgs lay the countryside proper and it was here that the balance of the population was located. The mortality of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries removed the better part of a generation from the land and left considerable slack in the rural economy. Over the next one hundred and fifty years this slack was taken up, hesitantly and unevenly it is true, but the overall trend is beyond question.

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