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Published March 1986 | Published
Journal Article Open

Taxes and Agrarian Life in Early Modern France: Land Sales, 1550-1730


Between 1550 and 1730, privileged investors in France--nobles, officers, and wealthy merchants--bought up enormous quantities of land from peasants. The transfer of property has attracted considerable attention from historians, but it has never been satisfactorily explained. The paper invokes the tax exemptions the privileged enjoyed to account for the transfer--an explanation that fits both the chronology of the land sales and the identity of the purchasers. The paper then examines how the tax system throttled growth in the agricultural sector.

Additional Information

© 1986 Economic History Association. He wishes to thank the following individuals for their suggestions and criticisms of earlier drafts of this paper: Philip Benedict, John Benton, James Collins, Lance Davis, Jonathan Dewald, Jack Gladstone, Donald McCloskey, Kathryn Norberg, James C. Riley, Hilton Root, and Ken Sokoloff.

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