Mastering the Market: The State and the Grain Trade in Northern France, 1700-1860

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The grain trade - a crucial sector of the French economy - caused enormous concern through-out the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Bread was the staple of French diets, so harvest shortfalls frequently triggered periods of unrest. The royal government had no effective means of drawing foodstuffs into restless cities during these times. Successive regimes developed strategies to dominate the baking trades, influence prices along vital supply lines, and amass emergency stocks of grain that could meet months-long demand, as free-trade ideologies developed, French administrators at both the local and national levels sought to reconcile these ideologies with the perceived need to control the market. Miller draws on an extensive range of archival material from Parisian and Departmental sources to show that free trade in grain was rendered workable only through the French state's intervention.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Judith A. Miller makes excellent and provocative new arguments about French economic history in her book...The study brings a fresh perspective to the concerns of provisioning authoritites before, during, and after the French Revolution..." Kyri Watson Claflin, Gastronomica

"...Miller's work is unquestionably a major monograph. No good undergraduate library should be without it." Choice

"...Miller offers...a careful study of local and national bureaucrats who reconciled economic ideology with political practice in turbulent times. Thanks to her long-term perspective and thorough understanding of local realities, Miller demonstrates how free trade came to the French grain trade." Mark R. Finlay, History

" excellent monograph, focused on a narrow aspect of an important question and based on thorough archival research..." Reed Geiger, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"It is hard to imagine her empirical conclusions being challenged...Mastering the Market will constitute a lasting and valuable contribution to our understanding of the articulation of the pre- and postrevolutionary states with the French economy." Journal of Modern History

"Recent work has shed considerable light on the liberal economic theories that sometimes had the ear of those in high places, and even more on the popular mobilizations at the moments of scarcity. Judith A. Miller's highly original contribution to this excellent literature takes a close look at the activities of government officials, especially local officials, whose responsibility it was to oversee the trade." American Historical Review

"Although much has been written about the grain trade and the French government's gyrating policies for regulating it, the topic remains a crucial one for the proper understanding of the rise of a market economy and the fall of the old regime. Professor Judith Miller has written a book the clarity and breadth of which bring important new insights to the issues, and which should refresh the debates surrounding them...a lucid and well-written book." Journal of Economics

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521621298
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2007
  • Pages: 356
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables
Old Regime Weights and Measures for Wheat
Introduction: Two Crises: 1709 and 1853 1
Pt. 1 The Market of the Enlightenment, 1720-1789 25
1 The Structure of Mill and Market 27
2 Simulated Sales: Shaping Supply and Demand in the Old Regime Marketplace 50
3 Scripting "Free" Trade 72
4 Narrowing the Focus: Bakers and Bread, 1760-1789 93
Pt. 2 Maximum: Feeding France in Revolution and War 115
5 1789: Municipal Revolutions and the Origins of Radicalism 116
6 Unity and Interests 134
7 Re-creating the Market: Thermidor and the Directory 163
Pt. 3 The State Learns, 1800-1860 197
8 The Last Maximum: 1812 198
9 The Routines of the Restoration 236
10 Relinquishing Control: Bakers and the End of the Paris Reserve 257
11 The Market Mastered 291
Archival sources 301
Selected bibliography 305
Index 325
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