The Fruits of Revolution: Property Rights, Litigation and French Agriculture, 1700-1860

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In The Fruits of Revolution Jean-Laurent Rosenthal investigates two central questions in French economic history: To what extent did institutions hold back agricultural development under the Old Regime, and did reforms carried out during the French Revolution significantly improve the structure of property rights in agriculture? Both questions have been the subject of much debate. Historians have touched on them in a number of local studies, yet usually they have been more concerned with community conflict than with economic development. Economists generally have researched the performance of the French economy without paying much attention to the impact of institutions on specific areas of the economy. This book attempts to utilize the best of both approaches: It focuses on broad questions of economic change, yet it is based on detailed archival investigations of the impact of property rights on water control. Part I provides both an introduction to French economic history between 1700 and 1860 and an introduction to the economic literature on property rights and institutions. Part II first looks at water control from a national perspective and then examines two case studies, one of drainage in Normandy and one of irrigation in Provence. The national evidence shows that most water control efforts failed before 1789, whereas 1820-60 were boom years for irrigation and drainage. Quantitative and qualitative evidence suggests that neither technology nor relative prices were responsible for the failure to develop agriculture under the Old Regime; rather, ambiguous property rights, divided authority, and endless litigation all conspired to reduce the efficacy of water control. The Revolution solved important institutional problems for the countryside by centralizing authority over eminent domain, reforming the judiciary, and clarifying property rights to land water. As a result, after 1820 water control flourished. Part III of the book is devoted to explaining why i
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book deserves a wide audience among scholars working at the intersection of economic, legal and political history." Reviews of Books

"Well documented, and fully informed with state-of-the-art economic analysis, this book provides an example of the very best that modern economic history has to offer." The Annalas of the American Academy

"It is Rosenthal's contention that it was the institutional improvements realized by the Revolution that in time permitted full access to technological change. From this point of view the events of 1789 brought France into the modern world. Nineteenth-century scholars will find this volume worthwhile reading for the information it provides about the economic history of the period." Leonore Loft, Nineteenth-Century French Studies

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Product Details

Table of Contents

List of tables, figures, and maps
Series editors' preface
1 Introduction 1
Pt. I History and Economics
2 The French Revolution and French economic history 9
3 Institutions and economic growth 21
Pt. II Drainage and Irrigation
4 A survey of water control projects 39
5 Relative prices and the supply of water control 59
6 Drainage in the Pays d'Auge, 1700-1848: the weight of uncertain property rights 71
7 The development of irrigation in Provence, 1700-1860: the French Revolution and economic growth 100
Pt. III Property Rights and Litigation Under Absolutism
8 The weaknesses of monopoly power 125
9 Settlement, litigation, and the drainage of marshes in England and France, 1600-1840 149
10 Conclusion 171
Appendix 1 Wages, land prices, and interest rates 180
Appendix 2 Estimating rates of return 189
Appendix 3 Theoretical proofs 196
Bibliography 202
Index 213
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