The Catholic University of America Press

The Politics of Fiscal Privilege in Provence, 1530s-1830s

Rafe Blaufarb

Cloth 978-0-8132-1950-9 $69.95
March 2012 In Print Add to Cart
E-Book 978-0-8132-1951-6 $69.95
August 2012 In Print Add to Cart

Rafe Blaufarb examines the interwoven problems of taxation and social privilege in this treatment of the contention over fiscal privilege between the seigneurial nobility and the tax-payers of Provence. From the 1530s until the French Revolution and beyond, a series of deceptively simple questions divided privileged from non-privileged elites in the province: what made land noble and, hence, tax exempt; how could land acquire or lose noble status? Aired in tribunals ranging from local village courts to the royal council in Versailles, these questions fueled a long-running dispute that shaped the political life of early modern Provence, planted the seeds of revolutionary social conflict, and influenced provincial politics into the nineteenth century.

This book sheds new light on two major fields of scholarly enquiry--early modern state-formation and revolutionary origins--and suggests a new explanation for the rise and fall of French absolutism. By fostering conflict between different kinds of local elites, taxation not only undermined provincial cohesion and invited the intervention of royal authority but also helped to generate the salient social antagonisms of 1789. Although the book treats only a single province, its long-term chronology and broad source base ranging from village archives to the records of the central state provide a more holistic view of early modern French history than shorter-term, Paris-centered studies.

"A major re-evaluation of the fiscal and administrative history of Provence, which adds immeasurably to our knowledge of both the ancien regime and post-revolutionary France."--Julian Swann, professor of early modern history, Birkbeck, University of London


Rafe Blaufarb is Ben Weider Eminent Scholar and director of the Institute on Napoleon and the French Revolution at Florida State University. His publications include The French Army, Bonapartists in the Borderlands: French Exiles and Refugees on the Gulf Coast, and, most recently, Napoleon: Symbol for an Age.


"One could well ask whether the world needs yet another study of fiscality and class relations in a French province under the Old Regime. In fact, Blaufarb's study easily justifies a return to this field. . .This book's great strength is its detailed account of how engaged elites experienced fiscal conflict over the centuries, showing how that experience left central (royal or Revolutionary) authorizes in a powerful position as the ultimate arbiters of important provincial affairs. If it sheds light on the social structures and ideologies of early modern France, it is because of the very artificiality that made legal forms such a powerful tool of early modern statecraft." -French History

Product Details

Pages:xiii,299 pages

Dimensions:6x9 inches


CIP Information: 2011028634/ KJW3429.35.B53/ 343.44904--dc23


1. Taxation--Law and legislation--France--Provence--History

2. Tax exemption--Law and legislation--France--Provence--History

3. Tax administration and procedure--France--Provence--History

4. Privileges and immunities--France--Provence

5. Provence (France)-Politics and government