The People of New France by Allan Greer

By Allan Greer

This ebook surveys the social background of latest France. For greater than a century, till the British conquest of 1759-60, France held sway over a huge component of the North American continent. during this gigantic territory a number of distinctive colonial societies emerged, societies which in lots of respects reflected ancien regime France, yet which additionally included an immense Aboriginal component.

Whereas past works during this box awarded pre-conquest Canada as thoroughly white and Catholic, the folk of recent France appears heavily at different participants of society to boot: black slaves, English captives and Christian Iroquois of the project villages close to Montreal. The artisans and infantrymen, the retailers, nobles, and clergymen who congregated within the cities of Montreal and Quebec are the topic of 1 bankruptcy. one other bankruptcy examines the distinctive scenario of French regime girls below a criminal procedure that well-known other halves as equivalent vendors of all kin estate. the writer extends his research to French settlements round the nice Lakes and down the Mississippi Valley, and to Acadia and Ile Royale.

Greer's ebook, addressed to undergraduate scholars and common readers, presents a deeper figuring out of the way humans lived their lives in those vanished Old-Regime societies.

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In the mid-i6oos when (white) women were in short supply, girls came under great pressure to marry the moment they reached physical maturity; the average age of first-time brides before 1660 was fifteen. This was a temporary situation, however. With the influx of 'king's daughters' and the growth of a Canadian-born female population, the ratio of men to women evened out and, by 1700, women had an average age of twenty-two when they married - still low b European standards, though not off the bottom end of the scale.

Near the cities, inland rows of farms were opening up behind the riverside concessions. Throughout the history of New France, property was laid out in long, thin rectangles, usually fronting on the river and disappearing into the depths of forest behind. This oblong shape had long been typical of'pioneer' regions of medieval Europe as it offered several advantages to new settlers. Since houses were built close together, the burden of road building was minimized and, in the Canadian case, access to the water for transportation, drinking, and fishing was maximized.

There was lots of visiting and socializing in the FrenchCanadian countryside. Especially in the winter, when chores were less pressing and when travel over the fields and the frozen rivers was easier, people gathered to celebrate weddings, New Year's Eve, and the festivals of local patron saints. Formal community institutions were largely lacking: there was no counterpart, for example, of the French rural commune, a municipal body set up mainly to administer tax collection. There was no commune in the colony because no direct taxes were levied there (which is not to say that habitants were not burdened by the State: in addition to paying tithes and seigneurial dues, they could be conscripted into military service or road-building duty, or they might see their grain requisitioned by force).

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