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The Formation of the Parisian Bourgeoisie, 1690-1830

The Formation of the Parisian Bourgeoisie, 1690-1830

David Garrioch

ISBN 9780674309371

Publication date: 02/01/1997

Despite their importance during the French Revolution, the Paris middle classes are little known. This book focuses on the family organization and the political role of the Paris commercial middle classes, using as a case study the Faubourg St. Marcel and particularly the parish of St. Médard.

David Garrioch argues that in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries the commercial middle classes were steadfastly local in their family ties and outlook. He shows, too, that they took independent political action in defense of their local position. This gradually changed during the eighteenth century, and the Revolution greatly accelerated the process of integration, at the same time broadening the composition of what may now be termed the Parisian bourgeoisie.

Central to Garrioch's argument is the idea that family, politics, and power are intimately connected. He shows the centrality of kinship to local politics in the first half of the eighteenth century, and the way new family structures were related to changes in the nature of politics even before the Revolution. Among the many important issues considered are birth control, the role of women, the importance of lineage, the spatial limits of middle-class lives, and the language and secularization of politics.


  • David Garrioch’s new book boasts a veritably mouth-watering title. Those who know Dr. Garrioch’s earlier work on neighbourhood and community in eighteenth-century Paris will not be disappointed by the quality of his research and the extent of the archival sources on which his work is based—there has been page-turning and carton-wielding of heroic proportions behind this study. Very unusual for a work of this type, moreover, is the character of those sources: Dr. Garrioch draws extremely copiously on the archives of local self-government in Paris—parishional, ecclesiastical and police archives, plus the riches of the Minutier Central—to delineate a middle class captured essentially in terms of its engagement in local politics… This is a book which reads extremely well and which offers a thought-provoking new angle on a number of major problems of contemporary historiographical concern… Dr. Garrioch’s brave study highlights the importance of the development of the bourgeoisie in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century France, and underlines the need for an even more inclusive recounting of their history.

    —Colin Jones, Journal of French History [UK]


  • David Garrioch is Senior Lecturer in History, Monash University, Australia, and the author of Neighbourhood and Community in Paris, 1740–1790.

Book Details

  • 352 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press