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By Peter McPhee; Palgrave Connect (Online service)

ISBN-10: 023022881X

ISBN-13: 9780230228818

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Extra resources for Living the French Revolution, 1789-99

Sample text

33 In eastern France, in particular, the proliferation of wood-fuelled extractive industries was the focus of peasant ire such as that demonstrated in the 22 Living the French Revolution, 1789–99 widely repeated article of the cahiers of the bailliage of Amont, that forges and furnaces only be permitted where the proprietor owned sufficient private supplies of wood. 34 They were supported in this by the Third Estate of country towns such as Gray and Vesoul and by the nobility of the bailliage of Amont.

Panics fanned out almost simultaneously from five separate sparks as bushfires of angry rumours, travelling from village to village at several kilometres an hour, affected every region except Brittany and the east. When noble revenge failed to eventuate, village militias instead turned their weapons on the seigneurial system itself, invading châteaux in the search for foodstuffs and sometimes compelling seigneurs or their agents to hand over feudal registers to be burned in public. This extraordinary revolt came to be known as the ‘Great Fear’.

They were a real presence in the life of the rural communities of this region, and seigneurial justice was deeply resented as costly, slow and preoccupied with the protection of noble privilege and status. Moreover, despite a royal reform of 1772 that sought to ensure the greater presence of the courts in the maintenance of the rule of law, the courts failed in that most fundamental function of any judicial system, to offer individuals security and a regular process to redress grievances. A peasant maxim of the day was that ‘a bad arrangement is better than a good trial’; the cahier from Landraye agreed: ‘it’s the fable of the wolf and the lamb’.

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Living the French Revolution, 1789-99 by Peter McPhee; Palgrave Connect (Online service)

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