The Politics of Fiscal Privilege in Provence, 1530s-1830s
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: The Catholic University of America Press
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As I sit down to write this preface on a Saturday morning in November 2010, it feels as if researching and writing this book has changed my life. When I arrived in Paris in the summer of 1999 to begin my research, I was an unmarried assistant professor at Stephen F. Austin State University, still flush with excitement ...
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In 1549 the Parlement of Paris began to hear arguments in a case pitting the seigneurial nobility of Provence against the Third Estate of the province. The trial turned on a series of deceptively technical questions. Did the privilege of tax exemption derive from the personal status—noble or roturier (non-noble)—of landholders? ...
1. Origins of the Procès des Tailles
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The notion that provinces that levied taxes directly on property, the pays de taille réelle, were more harmonious than those in which privileged individuals enjoyed personal tax exemption (pays de taille personnelle) has had a long life. Already in the sixteenth century, political thinkers were praising the taille réelle as an antidote to the spread of divisive personal exemptions. ...
2. Conflict over Compensation, 1556–1702
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Although intended to end the troubles caused by seigneurial claims to tax exemption, the royal arrêt of 1556 raised new questions that exacerbated tensions between the Noblesse and the Third Estate. In his treatise on the Statuts et coustumes du pays de Provence (1658), the jurist Jacques Mourgues found nothing better to say about the ruling ...
3. Compensation, 1702–89
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Although the arrêt of 1702 provided a robust framework for exercising the right of compensation, one that would endure down to the abolition of noble tax exemption in 1789, it did not end conflict over the divisive seigneurial prerogative. Rare was the village in eighteenth-century Provence that never experienced a trial with its lord over compensation. ...
4. The Biens Aliénés avec Franchisedes Tailles
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As it dawned on the Noblesse in the 1760s that the right of compensation had been steadily eroding the mass of noble land in the province, it turned to another type of tax exempt property to reconstitute its fiefs. This type of property, the biens aliénés avec franchise des tailles en département de dettes, was former communal property ...
5. The Crisis of 1787–89
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The Declaration of 1783 not only exacerbated tensions between the province and the Noblesse. It also influenced their respective assumptions and actions in the turmoil of 1787–89. In seeking to understand the origins of the Old Regime’s terminal political crisis, historians have emphasized the emergence of new language, concepts, ...
6. Dismantling the Old Regime in Provence
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The National Assembly’s abolition of fiscal privilege spelled the end of the formal, provincial-level Procès des Tailles. This was recognized immediately by the provincial political elite. Writing to the Provençal deputation at Versailles in the summer of 1789, the commissioners of the Commons applauded the news. ...
7. The Afterlife of the Procès des Tailles
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In the preceding chapter we have seen how the promise to abolish privilege made on the Night of August 4th and the decrees enacted to implement it had unexpected effects when applied to Provence. Another principle proclaimed that night, the sacredness of property, also had unanticipated consequences. ...
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Running from the inception of regular royal taxation in the sixteenth century to the French Revolution and beyond, the Procès des Tailles was a critical piece in the political puzzle of early modern Provence. To begin with, it was responsible for bringing into existence and defining the two groups, the corps de la noblesse and the corps of the province, ...
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Page Count: 312
Publication Year: 2012