Arnaud Vergne

Province, région, pays, gouvernement, généralité and intendance in the last century of the Ancien Régime

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords:

A semantic analysis of the term province, as it is used in legal texts during the last century of the Ancien Régime, can make use of various texts: royal decrees, arrêts of the Council of Sta te, complaints and decrees of the royal court, the minutes of local mee tings, administra tive correspondence or even scholarly works; all these texts offer many exam- ples of the use of the word province. This article aims to highlight the fac tors tha t distin- guish the different forms of territorial division, such as "gouvernement" and "généralité" - which can be confused in some case with the province - or "diocéses", "bailliage" and "séné- chaussée", "pa ys" or "région", focusing on the analysis of a selec tion of texts. These are all chara c terised by the fa c t tha t they offered, during the final century of the Ancien Régime, definitions and trea tises of the words in question: namely French language dic tionaries, en- cy clopedias, legal texts, toge ther wi th geographical works and monographs published at the time. Six key terms emerge from reading these texts - province, pays, région, gouvernement, généralité and intendance - which shared some similar chara c teristics, notably tha t of desig- nating are as of land. These terms can be divided, then, into three ca teg ories: 1) those tha t re flec t spatial zones or areas of the population. The areas de fined by writers of the era as région and pays fi t into this ca tegory. Though these words are sometimes synonymous or linked to e ach other, there are also important nuances to ea ch of them; 2) those that re fer to territorial divisions tha t were born from a political desire to dominate space. The entities tha t were crea ted by the sovereign to guarantee rule over the land belong to this ca tegory, namely gouvernements, généralités and intendances; 3) finally the province, a wide-ranging term tha t carries a plural and hybrid significance. Indeed, 18th century writers could offer five different interpre ta tions of area and three different understandings of the province.

Trova nel catalogo di Worldcat

Article first page

Article first page