LAncien régime et la Révolution (French Edition)

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Many of the buyers engaged in speculation, reselling properties rapidly. As Clemens points out, the sales represented a massive investment in the emergent real estate market in the region. In the context of an expanding real estate market, one might expect new meanings to be attached to landed wealth. It was not only social hierarchies that were put in flux by the Revolution, the sources of wealth that these hierarchies relied on also took on a new aspect.

Both suggest a more positive response to aspects of revolutionary property policy than is generally assumed. As Blaufarb points out, broader investment in reimbursing feudal claims suggests confidence in the Revolutionary government.

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It also suggests property owners may have been strategic in their response to revolutionary upheaval. Seen in another light, however, the individuals concerned might have thought they were making prudent investments or even hedging against the future.


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That is, people may not have thought in terms of supporting the state or not, focusing instead on how to protect their assets and turn the political upheaval to their advantage. This was decidedly the case in Guadeloupe, where major landowners stayed much longer than they did in other regions. The state rented them out, as they did many properties in the metropole, in exchange for payment in sugar.

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The particulars of colonial cash-crop cultivation, however, meant that renters of seized plantations continued to use methods of constraint and punishment against plantation workers that had been practiced before the Revolution, a dynamic that highlights the ways that plantation production maintained many of the social relations practiced under slavery even after formal emancipation. In some ways, the Revolution transformed plantation property, converting it into national lands that contributed to state revenue and, most importantly, freeing the enslaved labourers who worked the land.

But, in other ways, the plantations themselves inflected Revolutionary law, limiting the effects of property reform.

The high value of sugar and the entrenched practices of plantation labour regimes imposed their logics. The unorthodox quality of their arguments suggests a diverse pool of ideas about property was available, and that the brokers may not have seen any contradiction in recombining them. This leads one to wonder about the afterlife of such claims: clearly soldered together fortuitously, did this practical hybrid fall apart immediately, or did it inspire others?

One set of ideas did not so much displace another as take root amidst it. Revolutionary property reform is contextualised in a longer period of reform and contestation beginning in the s and extending well into the nineteenth century. Indeed, these articles make clear that isolating revolutionary policy from what came before and after renders it illegible. Administrators had an important role to play in outcomes as they applied the law.

Whereas the focus is often on the dyad of lawmakers and property owners, administrators represent a crucial category of actor.

People under the Old Regime

These contributions also encourage us to interrogate what change looks like when it comes to property: in some contexts—Guadeloupe, the Company of Parisian Stockbrokers—what stayed the same was as important as what changed. Instead of a focus on winners and losers, or on the establishment of rights versus a failure to defend them, one is confronted by the question of how the concepts laid out in law evolved as they took shape in practice.


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Ultimately, then, one returns to perhaps the most salutary outcome of this group of articles: to highlight that the question of property in the Revolution remains very much an open one, and that many avenues for future research beckon. II, Paris, Hachette, , p. Bild anzeigen. Anmerkungen 1 Les origines de la France Contemporaine , vol. Unable to display preview.

L'ancien régime et la révolution by Alexis de Tocqueville - Free Ebook

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