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Reform, Revolution, Abolition, and Beyond

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Abstract

On October 27, 1790, while the National Assembly was deliberating the fate of the French guilds, municipal officials in Lyon informed their counterparts in Bordeaux about two letters received by the Lyonnais trade corporations from the Bordeaux guilds. The correspondence “denoted a spirit of insurrection” against the liberal decrees of the National Assembly.1 Although the suppression of guilds had not been included in the law of August 11, 1789, that abolished the special privileges and entitlements of the various corporate groups, the Bordeaux guilds feared that the reforming spirit of August 4, which already had prompted journeymen to rebel against their masters, ultimately would lead to the final abolition of the corporate system. In an effort to forestall such an eventuality, on February 26, 1791, the Bordeaux guild masters along with those of Toulouse presented a joint request to the king asking for the maintenance of the trade corporations. Several Bordeaux guilds elected a “secrétaire des corporations de Bordeaux” who claimed to represent 18 Bordeaux guilds and invited each trade community to send representatives to a general assembly in order to draw up a request to the National Assembly.2 Despite the increasing dislocation of the trade corporate system, three weeks before their official suppression, the Bordeaux guilds and those of other towns remained committed to the corporate organization of work and took initiative to organize and unite to meet the threats to their way of life.

Keywords

Eighteenth Century Political Order Corporate Group Analogous Trad Special Privilege 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    G. Ducaunnès-Duval, Inventaire sommaire des Archives municipales de Bordeaux. Périod révolutionnaire 4, (Bordeaux: Gounouilhou, 1896–1929), p. 123; Gallinato, Les corporations à Bordeaux, pp. 345–346.Google Scholar
  2. 9.
    Ever since its annexation by the French crown in the mid-15th century, the people of Aquitaine and Bordeaux jealously guarded their independence from the designs of Paris government and maintained a profound distrust of any royal effort to manage their affairs, especially those related to the economy. In defense of their autonomy and economic and commercial welfare Bordelais had risen up several times against the centralizing French monarchy during the seventeenth century. The most dramatic and radical of these open revolts became known as the Third Fronde or the Ormée of Bordeaux of 1651–1653. Similar concerns would prompt the region to rise up against the National Convention in June 1793 (Forrest, Society and Politics in Revolutionary Bordeaux, pp. 3–4; Sal Alexander Westrich, The Ormée of Bordeaux: A Revolution during the Fronde (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1972), p. ix).Google Scholar
  3. 11.
    F. Sauvaire-Jourdan, Un économiste bordelaise du XVIIIe siècle [Isaac de Bacalan, 1736–1769] (Bordeaux: Imprimerie G. Gounouilhou, 1904), p. 538; Gallinato, Les corporations à Bordeaux, p. 322.Google Scholar
  4. 15.
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    Ibid., pp. 339–340; Marcel Rouxel, La compétence de la cour des jurats de Bordeaux (Bordeaux: Bière, 1949).Google Scholar
  7. 42.
    Liana Vardi, “The Abolition of the Guilds during the French Revolution,” French Historical Studies 15, (1988), pp. 176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 44.
    A portion of the following material originally appeared in Daniel Heimmermann, “Crisis and Protest in the Guilds of Eighteenth Century France: The Example of the Bordeaux Leather Trades,” Selected Proceedings of the Western Society for French History, 23, (1996), pp. 431–441.Google Scholar
  9. 70.
    E. Faure, La disgrâce de Turgot (Paris: Gallimard, 1961), pp. 425–429; Isambert, Recueil général des anciennes lois françaises 23, p. 74.Google Scholar
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    G. Ducaunnès-Duval, Inventaire sommaire des Archives municipales de Bordeaux. Périod révolutionnaire 4, (Bordeaux, 1896–1929), p. 123; Gallinato, Les corporations à Bordeaux, pp. 345–346.Google Scholar
  16. 151.
    Soboul’s study of the sans-culottes parisiens in the Year II lays great stress on the role of the sections in guiding the political life of the capital during the Reign of Terror. In fact 41 shoemakers were among the 514 militant sans-culottes of the Year II. (Albert Soboul, The Parisian sans-culottes and the French Revolution, 1793–4 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964), p. 49; Forrest, Society and Politics in Revolutionary Bordeaux, pp. 159–160).Google Scholar
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    See: Michael David Sibalis, “Corporatism after the Corporations: The Debate on Restoring the Guilds under Napoleon I and the Restoration,” French Historical Studies 15, (1988), pp. 718–730;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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© Daniel Heimmermann 2014

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