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Palgrave Macmillan

Work, Regulation, and Identity in Provincial France

The Bordeaux Leather Trades, 1740-1815

ISBN 9781137438553
Publication Date August 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

The eighteenth-century French leather industry was a strategically important manufacturing sector, one vital to both civilian and military life - revealed most dramatically when its precipitous decline induced Napoleon Bonaparte to violate his own Continental System in order to procure the critical material. This study examines the production and manipulation of leather and lives of the men and women who engaged in the Bordeaux leather trades during the second half of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. By focusing on one of the most passionately independent regions of early-modern France, it affords the opportunity to explore the details of artisan culture and examine the realities of an early modern craft economy and its relation to the wider French political economy.

Daniel Heimmerman is the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, USA.

1. Nature, Work, Regulation and the Bordeaux Leather Manufacturing Economy

2. Regulation and Economic Activity: The Bordeaux Shoemaking Trade

3. The Guild Communities

4. Apprentices and Journeymen

5. Establishment in the Leather Trades

6. Patron Leather Artisans

7. Reform, Revolution, Abolition and Beyond


'In this welcome addition to early modern studies of the craft economy, an especially important argument stands out. In Heimmermann's analysis rooted in archival evidence, he demonstrates that resilient artisans, responding to soaring demand, defied government and guild regulation, and their actions thereby display an effectively unregulated manufacturing economy long before the official abolition of the guilds in 1791. This craft economy, far from stifled by regulation, was in fact diverse, creative and responsive to the shifting conditions of revolutionary times.' - James R. Farr, Germaine Seelye Oesterle Professor of History, Purdue University, USA
"With a focus on the commodity of leather, which offers an analysis of several trades, and situating his study in the bustling port city of Bordeaux, Heimmermann provides a fresh perspective on the world of work during the eighteenth century. His ground-level view is a welcome addition to the literature." - Michael P. Fitzsimmons, Professor of History, Auburn University Montgomery, USA
"Heimmermann reconstructed the artisanal culture of Bordeaux's leather trades between 1740 and 1815. His deeply researched account demonstrates the vital importance of both the locality and the specifics of individual trades to the evolution of a key economic sector. " - Jeff Horn, Professor of History, Manhattan College, USA
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