This book examines the social, economic and cultural evolution of the peasantry in France and its place in French society since 1789. Within an overall chronological framework, Annie Moulin analyses the changes experienced by the peasantry, which as a subsistence economy has been gradually replaced by a commercial, capitalist farming system. From a position of numerical dominance in French society prior to 1789, the relative population levels of the French rural sector numbers have declined dramatically, with corresponding political implications. Cultural and social shifts in diet, housing and education have combined to vastly alter the patterns of rural life in France, and in this lucid account Annie Moulin explores the problems and tensions that have beset the peasantry since the Great Revolution. Peasantry and Society in France since 1789 is intended for a student readership, and will complement neatly successful earlier works by Pierre Goubert and Peter Jones, dealing respectively with the seventeenth-century and revolutionary peasantries. Important undergraduate aids include a chronology and bibliographies of both French and English works, and these, together with the Clearys' expert translation, should make Annie Moulin's the standard introductory account of the post-revolutionary peasantry.
"Moulin deserves praise for writing a history that is much more than an arid economic treatise filled with facts, figures, charts, and graphs--although the volume does contain its share of these. Economic modernization is certainly the dominant theme, but the author is equally sensitive to changes in lifestyle, sociabililty, and mentality experienced by peasants as they moved from autarchy to participation in a capitalist farming system. Moulin's treatment is unbiased and unsentimental. The translation is clear and remarkably free of jargon. Advanced undergraduate and graduate students, teachers, and even specialists will appreciate Moulin's succinct yet thorough introduction to this complex, fascinating subject." The Historian