War of the Flours
The war of the flours indicates a wave of riots which have occurred of April to May 1775 in the north parts, is and western kingdom of France. It makes following a rise in the prices of the grains and consecutively of the bread because of bad harvests of the summers 1773 - 1774. The expression, contemporary of the events, was retained by the Historiographie. But beyond the Révolte frumentaire of Ancien Mode appears a social crisis and policy. Thus, these events can be read as a reaction towards the edict of Turgot which establishes the liberalization of the trade of the grains on September 13rd, 1774. Beyond, the war of the Flours seems a manifestation of the defense of a moral economy: the government is shown to break the implicit pact between king and population, pact which requires of the king to take care of the safety of its subjects and their supply food products. The recent analyzes tend to reveal that far from representing a Révolte hunger, this event even testifies to the appearance of a revolutionary maturity of a prelude to the debate on the Maximum revolutionist. The war of the Flours falls under an older movement frumentaire and announces the revolts frumentaires An II. It can be regarded for this reason an event prérévolutionnaire or as a harbinger of the Revolution. This singular revolt by its scale was regulated by the fall of the price of corn, by the intervention of the troop.
The revolt frumentaire
Causes and stages of violence frumentaireAt the time of the welding of spring 1775, the cereal reserves become exhausted whereas new harvests did not arrive yet. In spring 1775, the food shortage appears in this difficult context. The price of the grains and the bread - which reaches 30 pennies - increases brutally and this increase is lived like intolerable by the most modest populations. It follows an important working class unrest on the markets and other place of distribution of the flours. Rumors are propagated then against the “Accapareurs” and the “Monopolisateurs”. This register testifies to popular rancour against released agriculture and more vaguely towards the physiocratic theories . A long time, the thesis of a political plot woven against Turgot by various clan of the court was advanced like explanatory factor, a thesis that the historian George Rudé reduced to nothing.
Principal stages of a riot of Old Mode, obstacle with plunderingIn 17 days, 180 conflicts could be listed in the Paris basin. Jean Nicolas ( the French Rebellion, Popular movements and social conscience , 1661-1789, Threshold, 2002. pp. 253-265) raises 123 distinct riots. Cynthia Button ( The Floor… , 1993) raises 313 occurrences sometimes, interpreted sometimes like “anarchistic” movements like the anticipation of a rural revolt. These manifestations of the moral economy take three distinct forms:
- in the exporting areas, one notes spontaneous popular taxations and more or less organized plunderings. The rioters denounce the Spéculation S, force the large farm and the owners to sell their stocks on the market at a fair price, plunder possibly bakeries and warehouses, and affirm to restore the principles of the moral economy.
- in the cities, is organized in a similar way of the attacks of the deposits and of bakery.
- finally, sets up an obstacle of the circuits of communication, river and road in the areas of field crop. By elementary reflex of survival more than per act of ill will, the rioters block transport of Blé of such or such agricultural province towards other provinces with higher purchasing power.
The return to the orderThe order is restored by a double action of the government:
- repressive, by the intervention of 25.000 soldiers, 162 arrests, the hanging of two rioters (actually its sorrows were converted by royal pardon into sorrow of galère and banishment). All in all these measurements are relatively symbolic systems.
- of assistance to the populations by the organization of a provisioning of the provinces of difficulties as by obligations made to the owners of stocks sell their product with the imposed prices. The king multiplies the messages with the agricultural work force, in particular via the clergy at the time of the Prône S.
Political and social criticism
- the idea of liberalization of the trade of the grains is discredited. Further, the economic experiment moves away the agricultural work force from the government of Versailles.
- In the field of the policy, the event causes rehandlings in center of the government and a policy change royal. Turgot claims and obtains on behalf of Louis XVI the resignation of Lieutenant Général of Police force Jean-Charles-Pierre Lenoir.
- Certains numbers of Makes out S, very localized, blame of the sovereign himself: one finds there attacks against “the blood of the Bourbon S”, but these writings are the fact of a cultivated population and erudite feathers. For Kaplan, the event marks the growing disenchantment of the people towards the king, a stage of the rupture of the bond crowned between the king and his subjects.
- However, the riots present a paradoxical character which testifies many characteristics to the moral economy updated by the historians E.P. Thompson and Charles Tilly: on a side a request for return to the Paternalism royal and at the same time critical of the government policy. Two logics clash: that which obey the laws of the property and that which obeys morals. The rioters challenge the public authority and asks him to restore the price right. In the absence of answer, a practice of rules of an interior order is set up: capacity of regulation.
- Ultimately, these riots are the sign of an aspiration to a justice food, redistributive, which rests on a strong demand of regulation and framing. The riots frumentaires cannot be comparable with Jacqueries, with the direction where they are not drawn up against the political authority, they are not the fact of a usurpation of being able but they obey a Community discipline. The access to the grain and the fair price of the bread seemed universal rights.
- On the social plan, the sources testify to an aggravation of the social oppositions even a social polarization: a restricted elite of rich farmers opposes an increasingly poor mass. The peasants, qualified in certain sources of Insurgents, are accompanied by the Syndic S of the villages - sometimes constrained and the country priests, as in Normandy.
- Of the frumentaire question to the social question appears the weakness structural of the economy of the kingdom but also the appearance of a new rhetoric protestor.
RemarksThe historical novel of Jean-François Parot, the blood of the flours , has as a framework the Parisian events which have occurred at the time of this war of the Flours.
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