Synopses & Reviews
Pierre Goubert is perhaps the foremost contemporary historian of the French peasantry, and in this book he synthesises the work of a lifetime to produce a vivid, readable, and uniquely accessible account of rural life in seventeenth-century France. Much of the very latest scholarship is incorporated in Professor Goubert's survey, which examines not only such crucial external relationships as those between peasant and priest, that existed within the peasantry themselves. In clear and uncondescending prose Professor Goubert paints a broad picture of peasant life as it was lived from the cradle to the grave, and depicts above all the multi-faceted variety (whether regional, social, or economic) of pre-modern France. As a further aid to students this English-language edition also contains a new supplementary bibliography.
'[This book] provides by far the most lucid summary of what is known about the environment and daily preoccupations of the peasantry, tempered by a constant awareness of the fact that the overwhelming majority never possessed very much and left little behind with which to reconstruct their world; Goubert's final chapter on Death and the Peasant, which in part is a rebuke at those who fail to recognize the acute limitations of the evidence, concludes with an emphatic reminder of the impenetrability of the peasants' deepest thoughts, in the face of which 'the historian can only remain silent'. It is this scepticism, harnessed to Goubert's formidable erudition, which enables him to distil from his own research and an extensive secondary literature the essential features of peasant life and its larger historical context ... His empathetic insight, balanced judgment and grasp of technicalities combine to produce a highly readable essay, offering the sort of rich and stimulating perspective which comes from a lifetime's reflection.' The Times Literary Supplement
This is an account of rural life in 17th-century France. It examines crucial external relationships such as those between peasant and priest, and the relationships that existed within the peasantry themselves. The book paints a picture of peasant life as it was lived from the cradle to the grave.
Presenting the regional, social and economic variety of pre-modern France, this survey of rural life examines the crucial external relationships between peasant/priest and peasant/seigneur as well as the not less important ones that existed within the peasant life lived from cradle to grave.
Table of Contents
1. A bird's-eye view of the French countryside; 2. Peasants and the land in the seventeenth century: possession and 'holdings'; 3. Houses: outside and in; 4. Birth and survival; 5. Peasant marriage; 6. The different types of peasant families; 7. Daily bread; 8. Labourers at work; 9. The well-off and the wealthy: or from the farmer to the tax collector, by way of the money-lender; 10. Vine-growers; 11. Peasants-plus: or from the semi-artisan to the semi-shopkeeper, via the schoolmaster and various other figures; 12. The peasant and his parish priest; 13. The peasant and his seigneur; 14. Peasant power; 15. The peasants and taxation; 16. Peasants in the revolts of the seventeenth century; 17. Sundays and feast days; 18. Death and the peasant.