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2015 | 6 | 13-84

Article title

Les structures et l’évolution économiques des grandes abbayes et des collèges à Paris au XVIIIe siècle


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Title variants

Sytuacja materialna wielkich opactw i kolegiów w XVIII-wiecznym Paryżu
The financial situation of great abbeys and colleges in 18th-century Paris

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Throughout the 18th century the number of professed brothers declined while that of lay brothers and servants increased in relative terms. In general, the monasteries most richly endowed in landed property saw an increase in their relative wealth over the century. Monasteries founded in the High Middle Ages usually owned extensive rural estates. However, monasteries also owned extensive property in Paris. The monastic colleges which held their own were those whose urban property holdings, if wisely managed, brought an income that rose with inflation, thus offsetting the baneful decline in purchasing power and the resulting impoverishment which might have otherwise beset the communities. In 1749 the 54 men’s religious communities in Paris owned over 500 buildings or, more generally, rental units. Some buildings were aristocratic dwellings while others were modest abodes in which craftsmen or even impoverished single women might live. Worthy of note are several key traits involving property holdings: monasteries often owned clusters of buildings and even built major apartment complexes, sometimes within their former cloisters. This rental property as a whole provided nearly 50% of the monasteries’ overall income by the time the French Revolution dispossessed the religious orders. Research into these property holdings, both in Paris and other French cities, will allow researchers to study the economic, urbanistic and social evolution of French cities over the longue durée.






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  • Institut d’administration des Entreprises, Université Pierre Mendès France, Grenoble


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Publication order reference


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