The French Peasantry in the Seventeenth Century by Pierre Goubert

This book contains a wealth of otherwise hard-to-find facts about the often poverty-stricken and mostly unnoticed country folk in the diverse provinces and regions we now know as France. Everything warrants a chapter: food, clothing and housing; birth, marriage and death; farming and poaching practices; relationships between peasants, seigneurs, unwelcome soldiers, haughty priests and the revenue-hungry royal bailiffs; taxes and revolts.

Goubert provides invaluable background information for the novel I’m writing about a family of Huguenot refugees who flee to Jersey after Louis XIV’s Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. But I have some grievances, which prevent me giving it a higher rating:

  • Many of the references to places, people and other books will only be familiar to indigenous students of French history
  • The translation is not very fluent and includes archaic technical terms
  • The prose includes considerable repetition and rather rambling descriptions
  • Hardly any mention is made of the large minority of Huguenots and the persecution they suffered, e.g. through the infamous dragonnades.

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