Holt, Wine and politics in early modern Burgundy

05 Nov 2018, 17:15 to 05 Nov 2018, 19:15
IHR Past and Present Room, N202, Second Floor, IHR, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
Mack Holt, George Mason University

The reincorporation of Burgundy into the French crown following the death of the last Valois Duke of Burgundy in 1477, followed by the advent of Protestantism in the early sixteenth century, opened up new avenues and opportunities for those who worked in the region’s wine industry to participate in local politics. The vignerons made up more than 20% of Dijon’s heads of households on this period, and they soon played a significant role in the city’s  mayoral elections, served as a principal bulwark against the Protestant Reformation, and supported the Duke of Mayenne and the Catholic League during the Wars of Religion. When Henry of Navarre abjured his faith and converted to Catholicism, however, they supported him openly and welcomed him as their new king. Yet Louis XIII soon tried to restrict the vignerons’ influence in local elections in the early 1600s. And when he attempted to raise the local tax on wine entering the city as well as curtailing the Estates of Burgundy in 1629, the vignerons rioted against some of the king’s officers in the Burgundian capital. Their active participation in local politics was soon curtailed by the absolute monarchy, as the city’s elites now understood that their future depended more on siding with the monarchy rather than on the support of the popular classes.