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Feudalism, Venality, and RevolutionProvincial Assemblies in Late-Old Regime France$
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Stephen Miller

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781526148377

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7765/9781526148384

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The emergence of anti-noble politics and the provincial assembly of Berry

The emergence of anti-noble politics and the provincial assembly of Berry

(p.49) 2 The emergence of anti-noble politics and the provincial assembly of Berry
Feudalism, Venality, and Revolution

Stephen Miller

Manchester University Press

This chapter explores how a revolution against the nobility took shape in a typical province in the heart of France. Louis XVI and his minister Jacques Necker created the first provincial assembly in Berry in 1778 with the goal of distributing taxes more equitably, improving infrastructure, and drawing criticism away from the crown. The experiment generated excitement across the province. In particular, I am the first to document the political paths of the duc de Béthune-Charost and Heurtault de Lamerville, nobles inspired by participating in the assembly to renounce feudal rights and improve the agriculture on their estates. But the comte d’Artois, the king’s brother and largest landholder in Berry, thwarted any infringements of his privileges. The rest of the provincial nobles, seeing their chance, followed suit and obstructed the assembly’s eight reforms. Commoners grew frustrated with this obstruction and reacted by taking part in revolts against seigneurial authority, forcing several nobles to flee the province in 1789.

Keywords:   Assembly of Berry, feudalism, social hierarchy, political movement

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