Seigneuries in both France and New France were characterized by seigneurial absenteeism. This paper, by studying the seigneurs who resided on their fiefs in the Saint-Lawrence Valley from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, seeks to make a contribution to the history of the Canadian seigneurial regime. Although French historiography concerning seigneurial presence throughout the Ancien Régime shows increased seigneurial absenteeism toward the end of the period, our work on the same question in the Saint-Lawrence Valley shows that seigneuries there became, once settlement was accomplished, more attractive places for seigneurs to live by the end of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when population and seigneurial dues increased. Nevertheless, Canadian seigneurs who lived on their seigneuries always constituted a minority: around 25 percent of all seigneurs over the three centuries of the seigneurial regime. This article also provides a general analysis of those seigneurs who took up residence among their peasants.


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pp. 7-24
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