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Le grand domaine aristocratique dans le monde rural en France et en Belgique au XIXe siècle : l’exemple de trois propriétés de la famille d’Arenberg

Abstract : This study focuses on three estates that belonged to the Dukes and Princes of Arenberg in the 19th century: Wallers (in the Nord department), Ménetou-Salon (in the Cher department) and Héverlé (in Flemish Brabant). The use of well-known historical records along with private archives gives a new insight into the economic, political and social strategies of post-revolutionary aristocracy in rural areas. One aim of this study is to discuss the specificities of nineteenth-century aristocratic estates, thanks to quantitative as well as qualitative criteria. Records kept by stewards and cadastres show that their size did not necessarily decrease, but also that the aristocracy was far from neglecting those estates in so far as it invested considerable amounts of money to improve them and managed to diversify its sources of income. Yet the choices made by the members of the Arenberg family depended on their attachment to those three properties and revealed a constant concern to adapt oneself to the regional context and to the own ambitions of the Dukes and Princes, but they were also motivated by a desire to become integrated into the rural communities of the surroundings. While in Héverlé, the family enjoyed an undisputed hegemonic position thanks to the support of the local clergy, its authority was progressively called into question in Ménetou-Salon, and even openly contested in Wallers. In order to understand the relationships between those three estates and the local communities, one must consider the local situations but also more structural evolutions, which requires a comparative approach that incorporates the methods of micro-history.
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Bertrand Goujon. Le grand domaine aristocratique dans le monde rural en France et en Belgique au XIXe siècle : l’exemple de trois propriétés de la famille d’Arenberg. Ruralia : revue de l'Association des ruralistes français, Association des ruralistes français, 2004, pp.45-74. ⟨hal-02964821⟩

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