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Conceiving the Old RegimePronatalism and the Politics of Reproduction in Early Modern France$
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Leslie Tuttle

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195381603

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195381603.001.0001

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Inside the Famille Nombreuse

Inside the Famille Nombreuse

(p.125) Six Inside the Famille Nombreuse
Conceiving the Old Regime

Leslie Tuttle (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter offers a social and demographic analysis of the large families who claimed pronatalist tax exemptions in Old Regime France between 1666 and 1760. Samples suggest that recipients were mostly members of urban middling groups including craftsmen and professionals. Demographically, their high fertility was the result of early, long‐lasting marriages and the employment of wetnurses. In social, economic and demographic terms, these families do not seem strikingly different from the French urban households who were beginning to adopt contraceptive practices during the same era. The chapter also reviews contemporary religious sources that not only forbade contraception, but that endowed marriage and prolific reproduction with positive spiritual value. It concludes with a brief study of the strategies some of the large families used to pass on assets and preserve harmony among their numerous progeny.

Keywords:   large families, early marriage, fertility, Catholic Reformation, European Marriage Pattern, wet nursing, family strategies

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