This book uses the Breton experience to address two fundamental historiographical issues: the meaning of absolutism and the nature of early-modern French society. It abandons the old framework that opposed orders to classes, and instead seeks to find the central meaning of the evolution of the French state in the maintenance of order (especially the preservation of property). Professor Collins's main purpose, illustrated by his fusion of economic, social and institutional approaches, is to combine social and political/institutional history, so long separated in works on this field. Contrary to much received wisdom, Professor Collins argues that absolutism was more facade than reality, and that French society was much more mobile than generally believed.
Table of content:
Introduction; 1. The Breton economy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; 2. Elements of Breton society; 3. Institutional structures of political control - financial and judicial organisation; 4. The Estates of Brittany and the Crown, 1532-1626: the Crown and the Pays d'Etats; 5. The Estates of Brittany and the Crown, 1626-1675; 6; The burden of Breton taxation; 7. The problem of order; Conclusion; Tabular appendices.