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In the spring of 1775, a series of food riots shook the villages and countryside around Paris For decades France had been free of famine, but the fall grain harvest had been meager, and the government of the newly crowned King Louis XVI had issued an untimely edict allowing the free commerce of grain within the kingdom Prices skyrocketed, causing riots to break out in ApIn the spring of 1775, a series of food riots shook the villages and countryside around Paris For decades France had been free of famine, but the fall grain harvest had been meager, and the government of the newly crowned King Louis XVI had issued an untimely edict allowing the free commerce of grain within the kingdom Prices skyrocketed, causing riots to break out in April, first in the market town of Beaumont sur Oise, then sweeping through the Paris Basin for the next three weeks Known as the Flour War, or the guerre des farines, these riots are the subject of Cynthia Bouton s fascinating study.Building upon French historian George Rude s pioneering work, Bouton identifies communities of participants and victims in the Flour War, analyzing them according to class, occupation, gender, and location As typically happened, crowds of common people menu peuple confronted those who controlled the grain bakers, merchants, millers, cultivators, and local authorities Bouton asks why women of the menu peuple were heavily represented in the riots, often assuming crucial roles as instigators and leaders In most instances, the people did not steal the provisions but forced those they cornered to sell at a price the rioters deemed just Bouton examines this phenomenon, known as taxation populaire, and considers the growing sophistication of purpose of rioters by placing the Flour War within the larger context of food riots in early modern Europe.. Popular Ebook The Flour War: Gender, Class, and Community in Late Ancien Regime French Society The Flour War was probably one of the last communal insurrections to occur in France prior to the French Revolution. Grain riots were not unheard of at this time, yet what makes the study of this specific tumult worthwhile are the signals it contains with regard to the changing nature of the relationship between the people and the government. Newly-crowned King Louis XVI was attempting to move toward a free market economy, and botching it up in a big way. His edicts were untimely, ill-constructed and poorly enacted. Tensions, already high in several villages, strained to their breaking point. Violence erupted. And while this sounds, from a historical perch, pretty unremarkable and par for the course, the nature of the tensions involved show it to be anything but.Louis told his grain merchants that they no longer had to limit themselves to selling their product in the local marketplace. They could shop their grain to whomever they pleased. Nor would they be forced to do business through middlemen, as had been the practice. If you want to sell to the big city of Paris, hey, put your sacks on a wagon and come on down. Want to sell overseas? You can do that, too. In fact, the King encourages you to find the customer who most appeals and make your deal. Mon Dieu, just have at it.Upon hearing this news, the grain merchants fell back in their chairs. (Those who had moustaches were no doubt twirling them.) Their goods, instead of being trundled off to the rural market for the price it would bear, began to be stockpiled as alternate venues were avariciously explored. Deals were made to sell the grain in other towns and other cities - grain that now did not make an appearance locally but went directly from storehouse to barge, headed for unseen destinations. The odd sacks that stayed around began to be priced more lucratively, and soon became unaffordable to many in the community.The community was not amused.Grain and the flour it turned into, and the bread that flour made, had long been considered a product a person had a right to. In hard times it was meant to be provided at an affordable price to those in need. This was sustenance; a matter of survival. There was, for the French villager of this era, a major moral component in the mix. Bread was something you simply didn't screw around with. It may help to understand that protesters had been known to refer to the royals as "boulanger, la boulangere, et le petit mitron" (the baker, the baker's wife, and the baker's little helper). Grain, flour and bread were symbols of the paternalistic relationship long felt by these people for their ruler - yet it is this very paternalism that a free market economy is destined to destroy.This is the dynamic in play, and while I have admittedly over-simplified the particulars you should know that Cynthia A. Bouton does not. Hers is an exceedingly dry, academic, and compulsively thorough examination of the forces behind the Flour War - and a study I could only recommend to those who planned to do a dissertation on the subject.Or had two long shelves of French history they were stalwartly attempting to plow their way through.