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date: 04 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The cahiers or registers of grievances composed by every community in France for the Estates-General of 1789 have long been recognized as an unparalleled historical resource. But by their very immense nature they have proved susceptible to a wide range of interpretations, and it is only in recent years that new methods have established incontrovertibly some of the key messages they present about French opinion on the eve of the Revolution. Detailed study shows that the burdens of the unjust and illogical tax system were felt far and wide, and that the privileges of the nobility and the Church occupied many writers; but also that the very local nature of the individual documents produced a kaleidoscopic array of views and priorities. Thus, it is clear that continued work on this mass of evidence will yield further insights into the multiple dimensions of historical experience locked in these texts.

Keywords: Cahiers, Estates-General, seigneurs, tithes, church, feudal rights, taxation, farmers-general, peasants, bourgeoisie

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