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The Nobility of theElection of Bayeux, 1463-1666

The Nobility of theElection of Bayeux, 1463-1666: Continuity Through Change

JAMES B. WOOD
Copyright Date: 1980
Pages: 236
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7ztmv1
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    The Nobility of theElection of Bayeux, 1463-1666
    Book Description:

    Reconstructing the collective experience of an entire provincial nobility over a period of more than two centuries, James Wood finds current theories about the early modernFrench nobility inadequate. Concentrating on socio-economic structures and changes, he analyzes the composition and way of life of all the nobles--poor and prosperous, obscure and notable--who lived in the election of Bayeux between the mid-fifteenth and mid-seventeenth centuries. Combining a regional historical perspective with the methods of quantitative social history, Professor Wood demonstrates the broader significance of his findings for general historical interpretations of the nobility and of early modern France as well.

    Originally published in 1980.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5752-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. LIST OF TABLES
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. LIST OF FIGURES
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xiii-2)
  6. INTRODUCTION A HISTORICAL PROBLEM: THE EARLY MODERN NOBILITY
    (pp. 3-19)

    This work reconstructs the socioeconomic history of an entire provincial nobility over a period of two centuries. The reader will not encounter here the detailed history of a few great noble families or a tightly restricted portion of officialdom. What will be uncovered, instead, are the social and economic structures and changes that characterized all the nobles, poor as well as prosperous, obscure as well as notable, who lived in theélection(a tax district) of Bayeux, in Lower Normandy, between the mid-fifteenth and mid-seventeenth centuries.

    This approach to the study of the nobility combines the methods of quantitative social...

  7. CHAPTER I DEFINING THE NOBILITY: THE RECHERCHES
    (pp. 20-42)

    The difficulties of finding adequate sources for social history in a prestatistical era like the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries are well known. Comprehensive socioeconomic information was hardly ever systematically collected, and the few surviving sources are scattered and difficult to interpret. In the case of the nobility of theélectionof Bayeux, however, this general rule does not apply. Starting in the middle of the fifteenth century, in response to the fiscal needs of the crown, royal officials began to conduct periodicrecherches, or investigations of the nobility, in Lower Normandy. During the course of theserecherchesthe crown...

  8. CHAPTER II THE MEMBERSHIP OF THE NOBILITY: SIZE AND SOCIAL MOBILITY
    (pp. 43-68)

    Changes in the size and composition of any social group are determined by the interplay between population changes within the group itself and the operation of social mobility across the social or legal boundaries that separate the group from other social groups. The relative degree of stability or continuity that characterizes the makeup of a group is directly related to the rates at which these twin processes of population change and social mobility take place. The French nobility, some historians maintain, was, demographically speaking, a dying class. Its members died out faster than they reproduced, and as a group stood...

  9. CHAPTER III SOCIAL STRUCTURE: OFFICIALS AND NOBLESSE D’ÉPÉE
    (pp. 69-98)

    What effects did the kinds of upward social mobility examined in the preceding chapter have on the nobility? Were newcomers quickly assimilated and integrated into the preexisting social structure and life styles of the majority of nobles as well as into the more personal network of family alliances and relations that characterize every rural aristocracy? Or did their addition to the nobility lead instead to internal social divisions and conflicts between established and new families?

    The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as every historian of early modern France knows, witnessed a tremendous increase in the number of royal officials, officeholders, and...

  10. CHAPTER IV MARRIAGE PATTERNS AND SOCIAL INTEGRATION
    (pp. 99-119)

    In the previous chapter we observed that the nobility’s internal social situation was considerably more complex than many historians have thought. In the first place, the nobility had not become subdivided into two mutually opposed camps ofanoblisofficeholders and oldnoblesse d’épée. The number of officeholders was actually quite small, exhibited rapid turnover, and was at least as much a preserve of old nobles as new. The military nobility, which included less than half the nobility, was well penetrated byanoblis, who served in the same proportions as members of older families. Therefore at least half of the nobility,...

  11. CHAPTER V INCOME AND INDEBTEDNESS
    (pp. 120-140)

    No investigation of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century nobility would be complete, of course, without an evaluation of its economic health. If the class as a whole was badly off economically, or if internal divisions of wealth and income coincided with other aspects of social structure in such a manner as to lead to the historians’ traditional description of internal social divisions along quasi-class lines, the picture drawn here of a relatively thriving social class, with minimum internal structural barriers and maximum, conflict-free, integration of new social elements, would lose most of its significance. Therefore this chapter and the next explore...

  12. CHAPTER VI LANDHOLDINGS AND BANKRUPTCY SETTLEMENTS
    (pp. 141-155)

    With the exception of an occasional property within the city of Bayeux itself, almost all noble landholdings in theélectionof Bayeux were organized into rural estates, or manors, consisting of a dwelling, specialized agricultural buildings, and associated fields and pastures. Many of these manors were also fiefs, which were distinguished from nonnoble tenures in Normandy by the fact that they were held by virtue of an act of homage and enjoyed certain seigneurial rights dating back to the founding of the feudal system.¹

    The property and rights associated with individual fiefs varied greatly, but, in general, the land associated...

  13. CHAPTER VII CONCLUSION: THE SOCIOECONOMIC BASIS OF ARISTOCRATIC RELIGIOUS ACTIVISM
    (pp. 156-172)

    The Bayeux nobility, as a class, emerged virtually unscathed from the social and economic changes that took place between the mid-fifteenth and mid-seventeenth centuries. That it did so challenges some widely held views of the early modern French nobility, and of the history of early modern France itself. Many current interpretations of early modern French history rest on the double assumption that on the one hand, the old nobility was in economic difficulty during this period and on the other, that resentment of their economic difficulties lay behind the internal struggles between old and new nobles as well as the...

  14. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. 173-174)
  15. NOTES
    (pp. 175-198)
  16. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 199-208)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 209-220)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 221-221)