Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Cause De...Des Vignerons

"A Cause De" means basically "With a cause" or "The cause of". It's tempting as students of history to try and assign reason why certain things happened, or to point out where and how they could have been predicted, or even to say that they were in some way inevitable. There is, in contrast to this, something called "The Black Swan" theory, based on the fact that such a creature was once thought to be mythical, which asserts that history is defined and changed by the very events which are unanticipated and unusual. Frequently we attempt to find the causes of the French Revolution, for example, to point to economic stresses, societal pressures and perogatives, and historical precedents and ideals, and to say that these being present the outcome was a forgone conclusion, even if the contemporaries to these factors were unaware of it. I make no judgement on the matter, instead I present to you a series, "A Cause De", which will consist of quotes, data, and events presenting facts from the time period which may have influenced the people living then. In short, let's look through their eyes.

"A typical vigneron [one who tended vines or grew grapes]- even one who owned his own land- might easily pay more than 40 percent in taxes to the local nobleman and clergy just for the right  to be permitted to harvest and crush his grapes. In rural France, the vestiges of an ancient feudalism remained, and the law gave the local lord the exclusive right to control the village mill or its winepress."- The Widow Cliquot

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