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REVIEWS 325 EUROPE Les Hornroeset la mort en Anjou aux •7e et •8e si•cles.F•qo•s LEBRUN. Paris-La Haye,Mouton,I971. Pp.x, 562.88F. Death, JeanFourasti•haswritten,was,for men and womenin Francetwo hundred years ago,'in thecentre of life justasthecemetery wasat thecentre of the village.'Fran5ois Lebrunbeganthisstudyasan inquiryinto the disappearance of thecharacteristic 'mortalit•d'ancien r•gime'withwhichPierre Goubertand hisdisciples havefamiliarized us.To hissurprise, Lebrunfound that therewas,in eighteenth-century Anjou,little or no decline in thephenomenon , or in itscorollary, obsession withdeath.Withoutanyartificial controls, therural andurbanpopulation appears to haverisenverylittle aboveitslevel of •69obytheendof theoldregime. Deathfromnaturalcauses wassufficient to achieve thisgrimequilibrium. What did men die of in Anjou?Plagueand dysentery halted the risein population of the later sixteenth century.Of thesetwo killers,plaguedisappeared completely after•633;butdysentery, onlytemporarily, from I67o to •7o7 . The subsistence crises of •66•-2 tookthegreatest tollof anysingle crisis in the seventeenth or eighteenthcenturies. Epidemics-dysentryand purpura -cut downthe population againbetween•7o5 and •714 but, curiously, the greatfamineof I7O 9 didnot.By •7•5, thepopulation wasbelowits I69Olevel, perhaps (although Lebrundoes no.tsaythis) belowitslevelof thesixteenth century. The eighteenth century showed no markedbreakwith thispattern: the •72os andtheyears1738-42werebad,markedbyfoodshortages andsome epidemics, suchas the grippeof I74O.Finally,the dysentery epidemics of •768-89putan endto theslightly bettertimes of the •75os and •76os, when the deathrate of peopleof all ageshad fallen slightly. At the end of the eighteenth century, thenumber of baptisms andmarriages-and therefore of the total populationwasin markeddecline.There wasno 'demographic revolution'in Anjou. Deathfromdisease, asmuchasdeathfromstarvation, hadeconomic causes: 'C'estdemis•requel'onmeurtau •7eet au t8e si•cle.Lesmaladies, dem•me quelesfamines oulesdisettes, nefontdesravages quedans lemesure offelles s'attaquent • desorganismes constamment • la limitede la mis•rephyslologique '(p. 386). Lebrunthusoptsfor a refinedform of Meuvret's and Goubert's explanation of thepatternof mortality in theoldregime asagainst more recenttheorieswhich tend to dissociate the phenomena of povertyand mortality. Butclimate andbadharvests cannot alone account forthemiserable state of Anjou;Lebrundemonstrates thatthelocalclimate wasmuchthesame aselsewhere in France.It seems to followthat theregionasa wholewaspoor, less ableto support itspopulation thanotherpartsof France. Interestingly, for students of the counter-revolution in the westof France,the areaswhich rose up against the newregime in •793aremostly in the sub-regions of Anjou 326 THE CANADIAN HISTORICAL REVIEW whichwerehardest hit by epidemics, that is,thepoorest areas.But in general, the whole area sufferedfrom chronic under-development throughout the eighteenth century, a periodusually thought to bemarked byeconomic expansion .The grandiose schemes of localand royalgovernments to improveagriculture ,floodcontrol,transport, and publichygiene wereneverimplemented. The economic growthand the pangsof 'differentialurbanization' which CharlesTilly foundin eighteenth-century Anjou seemlargelyconfined to a fewsmallregions. Perhaps themostfascinating part of thebookisLebrun's studyof theplace of sickness and death in the popular mentality,basedlargely on religious treatises,rituels, catechisms, sermons, and tracts.For, in a centurywhen medicalscience was,as Lebrun pointsout, closerto popularmagicthan to moderndiagnosis and therapy,supernatural powers in oneway or anotherGodor demons, priests or 'sorciers' -were expected to curesickness (a warning fromGod anda punishment for sin,themaladyof thesoul)andto wardoff, or at leastmakemorebearable,the hand of Death. All the morewasthisthe casebecause Christianity in its Tildenfineform did not arrivein Anjouuntil late, and evenin the eighteenth centuryremainedTun des•l•mentsd'une religion populaire oh foi et superstition sem•lentinextilcablement' (p. 4•5). In a world where magicpredominated, death was an obsession: prayed against, cajoled, accepted, usedasa weapon against one's neighbour in the casting of spells. The celebration of death-the deathof criminals, friends, neighbours, andrelations-was themostsolemn eventin thisworld,andeven afterdeath,in Purgatory, thedeadcontinued toplayan activerolein thelives of thelivingthrough prayerandintercession. Onlyamong thesmall Protestant community and certainmembers of the Catholicelitecanoneseea turning awayfrom thismentality, and alsoperhaps in the lackof protests overthe removalof cemeteries fromthecentres of towns, wheretheirpresence hadonce testified to the continual link between thelivingandthe dead.Butsuchsigns of change in mentality wereasfewaschanges in theeconomy, andAnjou,like Brittanyandmuchof thewestof France, remained apartfromthegreatupheavals of theeighteenth centuryandtheRevolution. T. LE OOFF York University The Revolto[ theJudges: The Parlemento[ Parisandthe,Fronde,•643-•65o. A.•,LoYr• MOOTS.. Princeton, •j, Princeton UniversityPress [Toronto,Saunders], •97•. PP.xvi,407.$•6.5o. No historianin his right mind shouldbecomeinvolvedwith the. Fronde. Professor Moore hasnot onlyignoredthat conventional bit of wisdom,he has successfully ignoredit. The resultisthebestworkin Englishon thefiveyears of confusion that besetFrancein the mid seventeenth century.But the reader ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-1093
Print ISSN
0008-3755
Pages
pp. 325-326
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-06
Open Access
No
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