Atlantic History French Port Cities
by
Silvia Marzagalli
  • LAST REVIEWED: 08 June 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 August 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199730414-0110

Introduction

From the 15th to the 19th centuries, the French participated to the emergence of an Atlantic world, while the French state built its first colonial empire. French port cities were the hubs organizing connections and exchanges between their hinterland, Europe, and this larger Atlantic world. The increase in trade and shipping produced a hierarchy among French ports and led to the emergence of a few more, which greatly benefited from the expansion and the increasing transatlantic interconnections: merchants and shipowners in Bordeaux, Nantes, Marseille, and Rouen–Le Havre dominated the colonial trade, whereas ports that used to play an important role in the 16th and early 17th centuries, such as La Rochelle or Bayonne, declined.

General Overviews

Urban history is a well-developed field of research in France that has produced some masterpieces (Lepetit 1988) and different general overviews (Meyer and Poussou 1995, Chartier, et al. 1998, Saupin 2002). In the 1970s and 1980s Editor Privat published a series of volumes on all major French cities, including all ports that played a role in the Atlantic world (see Bordeaux, Nantes, La Rochelle, Bayonne, and Rouen and Le Havre).

  • Chartier, Roger, Guy Chaussinand-Nogaret, Hugues Neveux, and Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie. Histoire de la France urbaine. Vol. 3, La ville des temps modernes: De la Renaissance aux Révolutions. Paris: Seuil, 1998.

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    There have been different editions with slightly different titles of this book, first published in 1980, in the five-volume series of the history of French cities from ancient times to the present coordinated by G. Duby and lately by E. Le Roy Ladurie. Written by the most authoritative urban historians of the 1970s.

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    • Lepetit, Bernard. Les villes dans la France moderne (1740–1840). Paris: A. Michel, 1988.

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      A classical, innovative approach to French cities in an age of major transformations.

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      • Meyer, Jean, and Jean-Pierre Poussou. Études sur les villes françaises: Milieu du XVIIe siècle à la veille de la Révolution française. Paris: SEDES, 1995.

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        Second edition of a 1983 book that was conceived as a manual for the highly competitive national recruitment procedure for teaching in secondary school.

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        • Saupin, Guy. Les villes en France à l’époque moderne (XVIe–XVIIIe siècles). Paris: Belin, 2002.

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          A useful, comprehensive overview of the urban history of France and its different aspects. The book is published in a collection for undergraduate students.

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          Historiographical Surveys

          The recent resurgence of interest in maritime history in France has produced both a useful synthesis of the state of our knowledge (Cabantous, et al. 2005) and a series of historiographical essays on different aspects of maritime history (La recherche internationale en histoire maritime). Atlantic history, however, is a very young field in French historiography. As a result, most of the studies on French port cities do not adopt an “Atlanticist” perspective. As notable exceptions, Saupin 2006 tests the pertinence of an Atlantic approach to port cities, whereas Marzagalli 2008 reassesses the old debate on the impact of the French Revolution on French trade from an Atlantic perspective.

          • Cabantous, Alain, André Lespagnol, and Françoise Péron, eds. Les Français, la terre et la mer XIIIe–XXe siècle. Paris: Fayard, 2005.

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            An attempt to sum up our knowledge on the relations between France and the sea over the past eight centuries and its social, economic, and cultural implications. A rich bibliography (on pp. 848–872).

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            • Marzagalli, Silvia. “Le négoce maritime et la rupture révolutionnaire: Un ancien débat revisité.” In Special Issue: Les temps composés de l’économie. Edited by Dominique Margairaz and Philippe Minard. Annales historiques de la Révolution française 352 (2008): 183–207.

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              Did the French Revolution abruptly end the golden age of prosperity for French ports? Or did the organization of the 18th-century French colonial ports already contain the roots of the collapse? The paper reviews existing historiography on this virulent historiographical debate in light of recent empirical studies.

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              • Saupin, Guy, ed. Villes atlantiques dans l’Europe occidentale du Moyen Age au XXe siècle. Papers presented at an international academic conference held in Nantes, 27-29 November 2003. Rennes, France: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2006.

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                The papers of a 2003 conference held in Nantes that explicitly questioned the pertinence of an Atlantic approach to urban history. A challenging introduction by G. Saupin (pp. 9–41) followed by twenty-seven case studies on different aspects, mainly covering French and Iberian Atlantic cities.

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                • Special Issue: La recherche internationale en histoire maritime; Essai d’évaluation. Revue d’histoire maritime 10–11 (2010).

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                  This issue of the review contains the papers presented at the international conference held in Lorient in 2007, which aimed to present the current state of French maritime history and to offer a comparison with non-French historiography. Without being exhaustive, the bibliography contains twenty-two hundred bibliographical references, many of which are on French port cities.

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                  Case Studies

                  The research centers of most of the French universities located in French ports have promoted a number of international conferences concerning different aspects of early modern port cities and have published the papers. Although readers should not expect any exhaustive coverage of the topic, introductions and some case studies can be useful. The geographic area covered by these volumes is generally larger than France. Whereas Bochaca and Sarrazin 2007 and Collin 1994 concentrate on infrastructures, Roudaut 1996 pays attention to the images and representations of Atlantic port cities. Vigarie 1964, Marnot 1999, and Couliou and Le Bouëdec 2004 deal with the 19th and 20th centuries, a period that is generally studied in the frame of a monographic approach to a single port only. Daudin 2005 offers an ambitious analysis of colonial and foreign trade in the French economy, whereas Pétré-Grenouilleau 1997 offers a challenging and unique overview of the evolution of the merchant world from the 17th to the 20th centuries.

                  • Bochaca, Michel, and Jean-Luc Sarrazin, eds. Ports et littoraux de l’Europe atlantique: Transformations naturelles et aménagements humains (XIVe–XVIe siècles). Rennes, France: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2007.

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                    A series of case studies on port infrastructures and their evolution parallel to the evolution of ships from the Netherlands to the Iberian Peninsula. French case studies cover the Bay of Biscay.

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                    • Collin, Michèle, ed. Ville et port, XVIIIe–XXe siècle. Papers presented at a conference held in Marseille in 1993. Paris: L’Harmattan, 1994.

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                      Offers twenty-four case studies on a dozen French ports examining port management and infrastructures as well as their actors and the spatial networks in which the port is embedded.

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                      • Couliou, Jean-René, and Gérard Le Bouëdec, eds. Les ports du Ponant: L’atlantique de Brest à Bayonne. Plomelin, France: Editions Palantines/Université de Bretagne Occidentale, 2004.

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                        A very richly illustrated book on French ports, their role, their evolution, and their inhabitants from the Middle Ages to the present. Covers especially the 19th and 20th centuries.

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                        • Daudin, Guillaume. Commerce et prosperité, la France au XVIIIe siècle. Paris: Presses de l’Université Paris-Sorbonne, 2005.

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                          This study provides an interesting summary of the evidence available for determining the importance of external trade for overall economic growth in 18th-century France. Discusses the overall importance of trade to the French economy. Written by an economist, this is a useful, extensive bibliography.

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                          • Marnot, Bruno. “La politique des ports maritimes en France de 1860 à 1920.” Histoire, Economie, et Société 3 (1999): 643–658.

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                            An analysis of the state policy and its interventions to keep up with the technological development to promote French maritime trade and its competitivity. Also available online.

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                            • Pétré-Grenouilleau, Olivier. Les négoces maritimes français, XVIIe–XXe siècles. Paris: Belin, 1997.

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                              Provides a useful synthesis of the historiography and a first comprehensive attempt to conceptualize the evolution of French maritime capitalism. Interesting and challenging.

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                              • Roudaut, Fañch, ed. La ville maritime: Temps, espaces et représentations. Papers persented at an international conference on the images and representations of maritime cities, Brest, 9–11 July 1996. Brest, France: Université de Bretagne Occidentale, 1996.

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                                Many papers on Brest.

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                                • Vigarie, André. Les grands ports de commerce de la Seine au Rhin, leur évolution devant l’industrialisation des arrières-pays. Paris: SABRI, 1964.

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                                  Written by a geographer, this book has inspired subsequent works. Still the only comprehensive study on the subject. Analyzes the relation between the typology of maritime trade and the hinterlands with the evolution of the ports in the 19th and 20th centuries.

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                                  Port Cities and Specific Trades

                                  Research on specific trades provides useful elements on different French port cities and their merchants. Tarrade 1972 compares the colonial trade in major French ports, Brière 1990 studies French Newfoundland fisheries, and Augeron and Guillemet 2004 covers different aspects of trade with New France. Special Issue: Les ports et la traite négrière is a series of papers on the slave trade carried by French cities. Other authors have dealt with the religious aspects of merchant trade networks: Bosher 1987 and Martinière, et al. 1999 study the importance of Protestant trade networks in Atlantic trade to New France and in Atlantic port cities, respectively. Studies on Jewish merchants are generally confined to a single city.

                                  • Augeron, Mickaël, and Dominique Guillemet, eds. Champlain ou les portes du Nouveau Monde: Cinq siècles d’échanges entre le centre-Ouest français et l’Amérique du Nord (XVIe–XXIe siècles). La Crèche, France: Geste, 2004.

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                                    Contains different short chapters on migration from France and French ports to New France as well as shipping, trade, and merchants in France trading to New France. Contains sections on specific French ports.

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                                    • Bosher, John Francis. The Canada Merchants, 1713–1763. Oxford: Clarendon, 1987.

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                                      Examines the role of Protestant merchant networks to Canada, especially in La Rochelle and Bordeaux, and how authorities personally participated in commercial partnerships, using their authority to achieve higher profits.

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                                      • Brière, Jean-François. La pêche française en Amérique du Nord au XVIIIe siècle. Montreal: Fides, 1990.

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                                        A detailed analysis of French Newfoundland fisheries. Provides useful information for the activities and organization of fisheries in the major French Atlantic ports concerned with cod fisheries, such as Granville and Saint-Malo.

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                                        • Martinière, Guy, Didier Poton, and François Souty, eds. D’un rivage à l’autre: Villes et protestantisme dans l’aire atlantique, XVIe–XVIe siècles. Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1999.

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                                          Contains different case studies on Protestant merchants in some French Atlantic ports, such as Le Havre, Nantes, and Rouen, and in specific trades, such as the salt trade. Includes other papers on Protestants in New France and the West Indies and more generally in the Americas.

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                                          • Jean-Marc Masseaut. Special Issue: Les ports et la traite négrière. Les Cahiers des Anneaux de la Mémoire 10–11 (2007).

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                                            Founded in 1999, the review publishes papers concerning slave trade. Issue ten is devoted to Nantes, which was France’s major slave port. Issue 11 covers all other major French ports. A useful starting point for this issue. Table of contents online.

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                                            • Tarrade, Jean. Le commerce colonial de la France à la fin de l’ancien régim: L’évolution du régime de l’exclusif de 1763 à 1789. Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1972.

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                                              A very comprehensive study of French colonial trade from the 1760s to the French Revolution. Provides useful data on the trade of French major ports and their colonial interests.

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                                              Bordeaux

                                              As the main 18th-century French colonial port, Bordeaux has attracted consistent scholarly attention. Although the 18th century has been extensively researched, other centuries are clearly understudied. The Revue de Bordeaux et du department de la Gironde, published since 1908, offers plenty of useful information on all sorts of aspects of the city’s past, whereas Etienne 2001 offers a general overview of Bordeaux history. Malvezin 1892 represents the first and only attempt to study the city’s trade over the centuries.

                                              • Etienne, Robert, ed. Histoire de Bordeaux. Toulouse, France: Privat, 2001.

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                                                A comprehensive history of Bordeaux from ancient times to the present, originally published in 1980. The third edition has an updated bibliography and includes chapters on the city’s history in the late 20th century.

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                                                • Malvezin, Théophile. Histoire du commerce de Bordeaux depuis les origines jusqu’à nos jours. 4 vols. Bordeaux: Bellier et Coie, 1892.

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                                                  Although the presentation is dated, this four-volume book might still be useful, as the author consulted archival documents that were destroyed by a fire in the late 1910s.

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                                                  • Revue de Bordeaux et du département de la Gironde.

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                                                    A local review founded in 1908 and published almost without interruption since. The quality of the articles has been inconsistent over the years, but many are still indispensable. A table of contents of every issue since 1970 is available online.

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                                                    16th and 17th Centuries

                                                    Bernard 1968 analyzes Bordeaux trade in the early modern era, Turgeon 1997 provides insight into Bordeaux Newfoundland fisheries in the late 16th century, whereas Allaire 2008 focuses on the role of Italian merchant networks in the 16th-century Bordeaux trade. Despite their important contributions, we still largely ignore the city’s maritime activities from the mid-16th to the mid-17th centuries. Webster 1972 studies the upswing in Bordeaux colonial trade during the late 17th century, Voss 1995 insists on the importance of trade to northern Europe and of German and Dutch entrepreneurship in the city’s prosperity, whereas Huetz de Lemps 1975 provides an overview of the city’s trade at that time, before Bordeaux’s emergence as the major French colonial port.

                                                    • Allaire, Bernard. Crépuscules ultramontains: Marchands italiens et grand commerce à Bordeaux au XVIe siècle. Pessac, France: Presses Universitaires de Bordeaux, 2008.

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                                                      The author writes about the importance of Italian merchants in Bordeaux’s trade with northern Europe, Newfoundland, and the New World.

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                                                      • Bernard, Jacques. Navires et gens de mer à Bordeaux (vers 1400–vers 1550). 3 vols. Paris: SEVPEN, 1968.

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                                                        The standard work on Bordeaux trade relations at the end of the Middle Ages and its participation in a slowly growing Atlantic economy. The author studies shipping, trade, and cargoes through extensive research into the city’s notarial archives. Indispensable.

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                                                        • Huetz de Lemps, Christian. Géographie du commerce de Bordeaux à la fin du règne de Louis XIV. Paris and The Hague: Mouton, 1975.

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                                                          A very detailed analysis of Bordeaux’s trade with France and Europe showing the fundamental importance of the wine trade for the city and its merchants. A very useful counterpoint to Webster 1972, as colonial trade was clearly still secondary at this time.

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                                                          • Turgeon, Laurier. “Bordeaux and the Newfoundland Trade during the Sixteenth Century.” International Journal of Maritime History 9.2 (1997): 1–28.

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                                                            Shows the importance of cod fisheries and whale hunting for Bordeaux at that time, when most French ports fitted out ships to Newfoundland.

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                                                            • Voss, Peter. “Bordeaux et les villes hanséatiques, 1672–1715.” PhD diss., Université de Bordeaux, 1995.

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                                                              The author examines the trade relations between Bordeaux and the Hanseatic cities, notably Hamburg and Lübeck, and shows the importance of these trade networks to Bordeaux’s rise to an important Atlantic port. Bordeaux progressively added colonial produce to its traditional exports to northern Europe.

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                                                              • Webster, Jonathan. “The Merchants of Bordeaux in Trade to the French West Indies, 1664–1717.” PhD diss., University of Minnesota, 1972.

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                                                                A fundamental study on the beginnings of the colonial trade in Bordeaux. Tracks the merchants who initiated it and their networks. Webster convincingly explains the emergence of French colonial trade after a phase in which Dutch capitals, knowledge, and shipping had been essential.

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                                                                18th Century

                                                                Bordeaux emerged in the 1720s to the 1740s as the major French colonial port. Viles 1964 and Butel 1974 pay much attention to this aspect and probably underestimate regional and national trading (for which sources are indeed less abundant). As a reaction to the tendency to celebrate this “golden age” and to forget the slave system that Bordeaux prosperity relied upon, Saugera 1995 gives specific attention to Bordeaux’s slave trade. Figeac 2002 integrates results of a half century of research after the still-valuable Pariset 1968, and Marzagalli 2009 explicitly adopts an Atlantic perspective.

                                                                • Butel, Paul. Les négociants bordelais, l’Europe et les Iles au XVIIIe siècle. Paris: Aubier-Montaigne, 1974.

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                                                                  This is the print version of the monumental Thèse d’Etat defended by Paul Butel in 1973. The author reconstructed the evolution of trade and the increasing importance of West Indian trade by using statistical data and merchants’ papers. Very little attention had been paid to the slave trade previously.

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                                                                  • Figeac, Michel, ed. Histoire des Bordelais. Vol. 1, La modernité triomphante (1715–1815). Bordeaux: Mollat, 2002.

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                                                                    A useful complement to the Histoire de Bordeaux, which emphasizes aspects of the most advanced research in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

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                                                                    • Marzagalli, Silvia. “Limites et opportunités dans l’Atlantique français au 18e siècle : Le cas de la maison Gradis de Bordeaux.” Outre-Mers 362–363 (2009): 87–110.

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                                                                      This paper deals with strategies that the Gradis family, a prominent Jewish family in Bordeaux, adopted in the 18th century to cope with an expanding Atlantic trade. Illustrates the opportunities the Atlantic world offered at this time to an important merchant house.

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                                                                      • Pariset, François-Georges, ed. Histoire de Bordeaux. Vol. 5, Bordeaux au XVIIIe siècle. Bordeaux: Fédération Historique du Sud-Ouest, 1968.

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                                                                        A still-useful standard reference covering institutional, political, demographic, economic, and cultural aspects of the city until 1815. The French Revolution is presented as a catastrophe ending a golden, glorious age. Hardly any mention of slave trade. Other volumes of this collection pay little attention to trade issues.

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                                                                        • Saugera, Éric. Bordeaux, port négrier XVIIe–XIXe siècle. Paris: Karthala, 1995.

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                                                                          In reaction to most existing literature on this subject, which only emphasized Bordeaux’s direct colonial trade, Saugera stresses that Bordeaux’s merchants traded slaves as well. The author examines all aspects of this trade. An important and easy-to-read book, which helped the city’s authorities acknowledge and understand this part of the city’s past.

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                                                                          • Viles, Perry. “The Shipping Interest of Bordeaux, 1774–1793.” PhD diss., Harvard University, 1964.

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                                                                            An important analysis of merchants in Bordeaux and their colonial interests. Author pays much attention to religious groups (Catholics versus Protestants).

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                                                                            19th Century

                                                                            The idea of Bordeaux’s sharp decline after the French Revolution is so established that most of the recent historiography (see Bonin 1999 and Marzagalli 1999) focuses on the entrepreneurial capacity of Bordeaux merchant elites, highlighted by such previous research texts as Casey 1981 and Cavignac 1985. Guillaume 2002 provides an overview of the 19th and 20th centuries in the city’s history.

                                                                            • Bonin, Hubert. Les patrons du Second Empire: Bordeaux et la Gironde. Paris: Picard, 1999.

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                                                                              A handy dictionary of economic elites in Bordeaux: shipowners, merchants, bankers, and so forth.

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                                                                              • Casey, Joan D. Bordeaux: Colonial Port of Nineteenth Century France. New York: Arno, 1981.

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                                                                                Author shows how Bordeaux’s elites kept trying to promote colonial interests in the late 19th century and lobbied accordingly.

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                                                                                • Cavignac, Jean. Les vingt-cinq familles: Les négociants bordelais sous Louis-Philippe. Bordeaux: Cahiers de l’IAES, 1985.

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                                                                                  A careful reconstruction of the most prominent twenty-five merchant families in the 1830s, showing how influential and wealthy these families were.

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                                                                                  • Guillaume, Pierre, ed. Histoire des Bordelais. Vol. 2, Une modernité arrachée au passé (1815–2002). Bordeaux: Mollat, 2002.

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                                                                                    A useful companion to the Histoire de Bordeaux analyzing aspects of the city’s past that were understudied.

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                                                                                    • Marzagalli, Silvia. Les boulevards de la fraude: Le négoce maritime et le blocus continental 1806–1813 Bordeaux, Hambourg, Livourne. Villeneuve d’Ascq, France: Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 1999.

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                                                                                      This is the published version of a PhD thesis (European University Institute, 1993). The author analyzes merchants’ reactions to the Continental blockade in three major European ports that were placed under Napoléon’s direct control. Also studies merchants’ strategies that enabled Bordeaux merchants to survive during warfare.

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                                                                                      Nantes

                                                                                      Nantes, one of the four major colonial ports in early modern France (and its major slave port) has been the subject of much research on the 18th-century period. Slave and West Indian trade have attracted scholarly attention since the 1930s (Martin 1993). Meyer 1999 provides a useful starting point for understanding 18th-century trade in Nantes. Ducoin 1993 offers a contribution on the understudied aspect of maritime risks in Atlantic trade. On the slave trade’s consequences for the city’s economy, Pétré-Grenouilleau 1996 offers a provocative interpretation. Earlier centuries have been relatively neglected, with the remarkable exception of Tanguy 1956. Bois 1977 offers a valuable overview of the city’s history, which should be read alongside the updated Pétré-Grenouilleau 2003. Developments since the 19th century on the Loire River, with the development of Saint-Nazaire (Barbance 1948) and the impact on the civic identity of Nantes, are best examined in Vauthier-Vézier 2007.

                                                                                      • Barbance, Marthe. Saint-Nazaire: Le port, la ville, le travail. Moulins, France: Crépin-Leblond, 1948.

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                                                                                        A dated but still-useful PhD study on Saint-Nazaire, at the mouth of the Loire River, and its labor. With the ever-increasing size of its ships, Saint-Nazaire emerged as the main harbor on the Loire.

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                                                                                        • Bois, Paul, ed. Histoire de Nantes. Toulouse, France: Privat, 1977.

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                                                                                          A comprehensive history of the city and its trade in this collection published by Privat. A standard work, although research on entrepreneurial and family history has advanced since.

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                                                                                          • Ducoin, Jacques. Naufrages, conditions de navigation et assurances dans la marine de commerce du XVIIIe siècle: Le cas de Nantes et de son commerce colonial avec les îles d’Amérique. Paris: Libraire de l’Inde, 1993.

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                                                                                            A two-volume study that was originally a 1990 PhD dissertation. From a database of 232 shipwrecks (both in colonial and slave trade) the author examines the risks at sea and the way insurance worked.

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                                                                                            • Martin, Gaston. L’ère des négriers (1714–1774): Nantes au XVIIIe siècle. Paris: Karthala, 1993.

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                                                                                              A classic, first published in 1931. A pioneering study of Nantes’s slave trade.

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                                                                                              • Meyer, Jean. L’armement nantais dans la deuxième moitié du XVIIIe siècle. Paris: EHESS, 1999.

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                                                                                                This is the reprint of a 1969 study published by SEVPEN presenting the fundamental mechanisms of French Atlantic trade while also studying the composition of Nantes’s shipping and its shipowners’ wealth.

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                                                                                                • Pétré-Grenouilleau, Olivier. L’argent de la traite: Milieu négrier, capitalisme et développement: Un modèle. Paris: Aubier, 1996.

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                                                                                                  The author follows the history of Nantes’s most prominent shipowners involved in the slave trade from the 1750s to 1914. He counters Eric William’s hypothesis of a direct relation between slaveowners’ capital and the Industrial Revolution.

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                                                                                                  • Pétré-Grenouilleau, Olivier. Nantes. Plomelin, France: Palantines, 2003.

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                                                                                                    A richly illustrated history of Nantes from the origin to the present.

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                                                                                                    • Tanguy, Jean. Le commerce du port de Nantes au milieu du XVIe siècle. Paris: SEVPEN, 1956.

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                                                                                                      One of the rare studies on Nantes’s trade in the 16th century, mainly on its French and Iberian trade.

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                                                                                                      • Vauthier-Vézier, Anne. L’estuaire et le port: L’identité maritime de Nantes au XIXe siècle. Rennes, France: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2007.

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                                                                                                        This is a PhD thesis in book form examining the port and city planning in Nantes, which was the result of the visions contemporaries had of the role of the city as well as the result of the groups’ interests. A social and cultural approach linked to the history of techniques.

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                                                                                                        Ports on the Atlantic Coasts

                                                                                                        La Rochelle (see La Rochelle) and, to a much lesser extent, Bayonne (see Bayonne) were integrated into the Atlantic world in the early modern period, but they declined subsequently. By the 18th century these two port cities ranked well behind Bordeaux and Nantes.

                                                                                                        La Rochelle

                                                                                                        The merchants of La Rochelle, most of whom were Protestant, took an active part in the Newfoundland fisheries and international trade in the 16th century (Trocmé 1953 and Delafosse 2002), but they did not manage to keep pace with the 18th-century expansion of French colonial trade, mainly because of a lack of rich and diversified hinterlands (Clark 1981). Yet connections with the West Indies did still influence family strategies (Palmer 2008). La Rochelle merchants dominated Canadian trade until the loss of New France in 1763 (Bosher 1987)

                                                                                                        • Bosher, John Francis. The Canada Merchants, 1713–1763. Oxford: Clarendon, 1987.

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                                                                                                          Examines the role of Protestant merchant maritime shipping networks to Canada, especially from La Rochelle and Bordeaux, and how merchants’ interests were curtailed by state authorities. A classic.

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                                                                                                          • Clark, John G. La Rochelle and the Atlantic Economy during the Eighteenth Century. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981.

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                                                                                                            The best existing study of La Rochelle’s 18th-century trade, a period traditionally considered a phase of decline.

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                                                                                                            • Delafosse, Marcel, ed. Histoire de La Rochelle. Toulouse, France: Privat, 2002.

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                                                                                                              New edition of the 1985 volume. A comprehensive history of the city and its trade in the collection of the history of French cities published by Privat. A standard work.

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                                                                                                              • Palmer, Jennifer. “Atlantic Crossings: Race, Gender, and the Construction of Families in Eighteenth-Century La Rochelle.” PhD diss., University of Michigan, 2008.

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                                                                                                                Firmly rooted in an Atlantic perspective, the author analyzes relations and family networks between families in La Rochelle and Saint-Domingue.

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                                                                                                                • Trocmé, Étienne, and Marcel Delafosse. Le commerce rochelais de la fin du XVe siècle au début du XVIIe. Paris: SEVPEN, 1953.

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                                                                                                                  A reference written by an archivist and a historian on the trade to Europe—especially concerning La Rochelle’s trade with the Iberian Peninsula and the Baltic and its involvement in Newfoundland fisheries. Also takes a critical look at the city’s elite.

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                                                                                                                  Bayonne

                                                                                                                  Although Bayonne captains and merchants played an important part in early modern privateering and whale hunting, the city failed to take advantage of the increasing opportunities in an expanding Atlantic world (see Pontet 1990 and Pontet 1991). Bayonne hosted the most important Jewish community in early modern France and enjoyed efficient banking facilities (see Nahon 1969) but lacked a hinterland and an easy maritime access.

                                                                                                                  • Nahon, Gérard. “Les communautés judéo-portugaises du Sud-Ouest de la France (Bayonne et sa région), 1684–1791.” PhD diss., École des Hautes Etudes, 1969.

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                                                                                                                    A comprehensive study of the Jewish Sepharade community in Bayonne.

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                                                                                                                    • Pontet, Josette. Bayonne, un destin de ville moyenne à l’époque moderne. Biarritz: J and D, 1990.

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                                                                                                                      Shows that Bayonne took an active part in Atlantic fisheries in early modern times but failed to emerge as a major Atlantic port in the 18th century.

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                                                                                                                      • Pontet, Josette, ed. Histoire de Bayonne. Toulouse, France: Privat, 1991.

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                                                                                                                        A good overview of the city history. Pays particular attention to the city’s maritime activities.

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                                                                                                                        Ports on the Channel

                                                                                                                        The French ports in the English Channel were extremely active in transatlantic trade from the beginning and participated in assorted and complementary activities, such as fishing, privateering, and trade to the Americas, both before and after French colonization of New France and the West Indies. Some of these ports, notably Le Havre, emerged in the 18th century as major trade and shipping centers.

                                                                                                                        Rouen and Le Havre

                                                                                                                        The two port cities of Rouen and Le Havre on the Seine River have attracted scholarly attention because of their early involvement in transatlantic trade (see Barrey 1917 and Brunelle 1991). Mollat du Jourdin 1979 and Corvisier 1983 are good starting points to get acquainted with the history of these two cities. In the 18th century they both participated in Atlantic shipping and trade and have therefore been studied together (see Dardel 1963 and Dardel 1966). But as bigger ships were built, Le Havre emerged as a major French port (Malon 2006). Whereas Dardel 1966 has treated the city’s involvement in transatlantic trade from a quantitative point of view, Begouën-Demeaux 1982 and Delobette 2005 pay greater attention to merchants and their strategies.

                                                                                                                        • Barrey, Philippe. Le Havre transatlantique de 1571 à 1610. Paris: Hachette, 1917.

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                                                                                                                          An invaluable study on the first phase of Le Havre involvement in Atlantic trades. Most of the sources used by Barrey were destroyed during World War II.

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                                                                                                                          • Begouën-Demeaux, Maurice. Mémorial d’une famille du Havre: Les fondateurs; Choses et gens du XVIIIe siècle en France et à Saint-Domingue, Jacques-François Begouën, 1743–1831. Paris: Société française d’histoire d’Outre-mer, 1982.

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                                                                                                                            This study, first published in 1948–1958 in a number of different volumes, offers a comprehensive history of the Begouën and Foäche families, who were related and deeply involved in transatlantic trade and the slave trade in Le Havre. See also his Mémorial d’une famille du Havre: Stanislas Foäche (1737–1806), négociant de Saint-Domingue.

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                                                                                                                            • Brunelle, Gayle K. The New World Merchants of Rouen, 1559–1630. Kirksville, MO: Sixteenth Century Journal, 1991.

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                                                                                                                              An important study on the beginnings of Rouen’s involvement in transatlantic trade.

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                                                                                                                              • Corvisier, André, ed. Histoire du Havre et de l’estuaire de la Seine. Toulouse, France: Privat, 1983.

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                                                                                                                                A comprehensive history of the city and its trade. Published as part of Privat’s History of French Cities series. A standard reference.

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                                                                                                                                • Dardel, Pierre. Navires et marchandises dans les ports de Rouen et du Havre au XVIIIe siècle. Paris: SEVPEN, 1963.

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                                                                                                                                  A quantitative approach to the nature of shipping and trade in Le Havre and Rouen. Very little attention to merchants and social aspects.

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                                                                                                                                  • Dardel, Pierre. Commerce, industrie et navigation à Rouen et au Havre au XVIIIe siècle. Rouen: Société libre d’émulation de la Seine-Maritime, 1966.

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                                                                                                                                    An economic history of Rouen and Le Havre. Very little attention paid to merchants and social aspects.

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                                                                                                                                    • Delobette, Etienne. “Ces messieurs du Havre: Négociants, commissionnaires et armateurs de 1680 à 1830.” PhD diss., Université de Caen/Basse Normandie, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                      This monumental work focuses more on merchants and social aspects than Pierre Dardel’s economic history of the city. Available online.

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                                                                                                                                      • Malon, Claude. Le Havre colonial de 1880 à 1960. Mont-Saint-Aignan, France: Publications des Universités de Rouen et du Havre, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                        A history of the colonial trade of Le Havre under the third and fourth French Republics: covers trading companies and the representations of the city’s urban identity as a colonial port.

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                                                                                                                                        • Mollat du Jourdin, Michel, ed. Histoire de Rouen. Toulouse, France: Privat, 1979.

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                                                                                                                                          A comprehensive history of the city and its trade in the History of French Cities series published by Privat. A standard reference by one of the most authoritative French maritime historians.

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                                                                                                                                          Other Ports on the Channel

                                                                                                                                          If Rouen and Le Havre (see Rouen and Le Havre) were involved in transatlantic shipping and trade over the centuries and emerged as the major French ports on the English Channel, other ports played a relevant role in specific trades at given times. This is the case of late-medieval Dieppe (see Mollat du Jourdin 1951); 17th-century Saint-Malo, which has been studied in detail in Delumeau 1966 and Lespagnol 1997; and Dunkerque (Pfister 1985 and Pfister 2005). Some ports had a tradition in privateering, which has been comparatively studied in Villers 2000. Calais’s developments in the 19th century are best analyzed in Borde 1997. A study of the seamen’s mentality and maritime communities, Cabantous 1991 initiates another approach to port cities, which considers a neglected and essential part of maritime life in French port cities.

                                                                                                                                          • Borde, Christian. Calais et la mer (1814–1914). Villeneuve-d’Ascq, France: Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                            A detailed analysis of the evolution of Calais and Saint Pierre (which merged in 1885) and their progressive adaptations to an industrializing world that provoked major transformations in the cities’ economic activities (decline of fisheries, emergence of passengers’ transport) and their urbanism.

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                                                                                                                                            • Cabantous, Alain. Dix mille marins face à l’océan: Les populations maritimes de Dunkerque au Havre (vers 1660–1794). Paris: Publisud, 1991.

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                                                                                                                                              In reaction to the ongoing historiographical approach concentrating exclusively on urban merchant elites of French port cities, Cabantous studied French crews and their mentalities. A classic study that opened new directions of research.

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                                                                                                                                              • Delumeau, Jean. Le mouvement du port de Saint-Malo, 1681–1720: BILAN statistique. Paris: C. Klincksieck, 1966.

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                                                                                                                                                A pioneering quantitative study of Saint-Malo shipping and trade activities at the golden age of the city’s involvement in transatlantic and privateering activities.

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                                                                                                                                                • Lespagnol, André. Messieurs de Saint-Malo: Une élite négociante au temps de Louis XIV. Saint-Malo, France: PUR, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                                  An authoritative study on the rise and fall of Saint-Malo Atlantic trade (fisheries, privateering, trade with the Spanish Empire and Cadix) and its implication for the emerging local merchant class and merchant dynasties. First edition published in 1990.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Mollat du Jourdin, Michel. Comptabilité du port de Dieppe au XVe siècle. Paris: A. Colin, 1951.

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                                                                                                                                                    A pioneering study on the port of Dieppe, which opened the great French historiographical era of maritime and quantitative studies. Mollat du Jourdin animated French maritime history for two decades.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Pfister, Christian. Ports, navires et négociants à Dunkerque (1662–1792). Dunkerque, France: Société dunkerquoise, 1985.

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                                                                                                                                                      The best reference work on 18th-century Dunkerque. Sees Dunkerque as a special case among French ports and considers its special fiscal status linked to its trade and the importance of its smuggling activities.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Pfister, Christian. Constructeurs, charpentiers et navires à Dunkerque du XVIIe au XXe siècle. Dunkerque, France: Société Dunkerquoise d’Histoire et d’Archéologie, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                        A detailed analysis of shipbuilding activities in Dunkerque over two centuries. A long-neglected aspect of the life of French port cities, as historians had previously studied shipbuilding almost exclusively in connection to the navy.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Villiers, Patrick. Les corsaires du Littoral (Dunkerque, Calais, Boulogne) de Philippe II à Louis XIV (1568–1713). Villeneuve-d’Ascq, France: Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                          A detailed reconstruction of the privateers of three port cities who reverted to such activities whenever war interfered with regular trade and fishing.

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                                                                                                                                                          Marseille

                                                                                                                                                          Marseille became a major French port in the 17th century, when its merchants developed an intense trade to the Levant. By the 18th century the city emerged as the second most important French port in the trade to the West Indies (see Rambert 1949–1966 and Carrière 1973). A century later the port became one of the most prominent French shipping centers and is still trading worldwide. This evolution affected the city’s urbanism and its identity (for this, see Caty and Richard 1986, Borruey 1994, and Roncayolo 1991). Americi and Daumalin 2010, Daumalin 1992, and Carrière 1973 pay much attention to the merchants and entrepreneurs who sustained the trade.

                                                                                                                                                          • Americi, Laurence, and Xavier Daumalin. Les dynasties marseillaises: De la Révolution à nos jours. Paris: Perrin, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                            A useful prosopography of urban elites.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Borruey, René. Le port moderne de Marseille, du dock au conteneur, 1844–1974. Marseille: Chambre de commerce et d’industrie de Marseille, 1994.

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                                                                                                                                                              Volume 9 of the valuable series Histoire du commerce et de l’industrie de Marseille, XIXe–XXe. Deals with the evolution of the port infrastructures and the way they contributed to the evolution and development of the city of Marseille and its economy.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Carrière, Charles. Négociants marseillais au XVIIIe siècle: Contribution à l’étude des économies maritimes. 2 vols. Marseille: Institut historique de Provence, 1973.

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                                                                                                                                                                A rich, intelligent study on 18th-century trade and shipping in Marseille and on the merchants and merchant networks that sustained the growth of this industry. Essential and informative.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Caty, Roland, and Eliane Richard. Armateurs marseillais au XIXe siècle. Marseille: Chambre de commerce et d’industrie de Marseille, 1986.

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                                                                                                                                                                  An important study on Marseille’s 19th-century shipowners. Volume 1 of the valuable series of monographies Histoire du commerce et de l’industrie de Marseille, XIXe–XXe. Published by Marseille Chamber of Commerce and Industry (fifteen volumes published, see list online).

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Daumalin, Xavier. Marseille et l’ouest africain, l’outre-mer des industriels (1841–1956). Marseille: Chambre de Commerce et de l’Industrie de Marseille, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Volume 8 of the Histoire du commerce et de l’industrie de Marseille, XIXe–XXe, series. Analyzes the entrepreneurial strategies and the city’s involvement in trade with Africa.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Rambert, Gaston, ed. Histoire du commerce de Marseille. 7 vols. Paris: Plon, 1949–1966.

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                                                                                                                                                                      A still valuable and monumental work on Marseille trade from ancient times to the French Revolution. Volume 3 covers the period 1480 to 1599, Volume 4 covers 1599 to 1660, and Volume 7 is on Marseille’s 18th-century trade with Atlantic Europe and the United States.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Roncayolo, Marcel. L’imaginaire de Marseille, port, ville, pôle. Marseille: Chambre de Commerce et de l’Industrie de Marseille, 1991.

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                                                                                                                                                                        A methodological innovative history of the evolution of the images and representations of Marseille through iconographical and textual sources (touristic guides, urbanistic projects, travelers’ descriptions) in modern times. Includes an analysis of the perception of Marseille as a colonial port.

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                                                                                                                                                                        French Atlantic Naval Bases

                                                                                                                                                                        The naval defense of the French Atlantic and colonial interests relied on three major naval bases: Brest (covered in Boulaire 1989, Cloître-Quéré 1992, and Cloître 2000), Rochefort and Lorient, which depended on a highly organized labor force on-site (see Acerra 1993) and relied on Atlantic trade for their supplies (see Le Bouëdec 1982) as well as on merchant vessels for the sailors. Lorient was also the only French port authorized to trade beyond the Cape of Good Hope until the end of the 18th century, thus a key element in connecting Asia and the Atlantic world (Nières 1988). Le Bouëdec 1994 has remarkably demonstrated the role of the French state in the development of Lorient.

                                                                                                                                                                        • Acerra, Martine. Rochefort et la construction navale française 1661–1815. 4 vols. Paris: Librairie de l’Inde, 1993.

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                                                                                                                                                                          A monumental work on the dockyards of Rochefort under the ancien régime. The book looks at their labor and the way the naval activities affected all aspects of social and urban life.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Boulaire, Alain. Brest au temps de la Royale. Brest, France: Editions de la Cité, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                                            A detailed analysis of the development of Brest, which emerged as France’s most important naval base during the 18th century. In 1988 the author defended a six-volume PhD dissertation on this subject.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Cloître, Marie-Thérèse, ed. Histoire de Brest. Brest, France: Centre de Recherche Bretonne et Celtique, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                              An updated and illustrated history of the city and its naval base written by specialists for a larger audience.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Cloître-Quéré, Marie-Thérèse. Brest et la mer 1848–1874. Brest, France: Centre de Recherche Bretonne et Celtique, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                                This is the published book adapted from the PhD thesis the author defended in 1974. Shows how the city tried to impose itself as a shipping center and a transit port.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Le Bouëdec, Gérard. “Les approvisionnements de la Compagnie des Indes (1737–1770): L’horizon géographique l’orientais.” Histoire, Economie, Société 3 (1982): 377–412.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  This article sums up the results of author’s PhD (University of Paris-Sorbonne, 1982). Treats the organization of the supplies for the French East Indian Company based in Lorient. The author shows the importance of the connections with northern Europe, the Baltic, and the French Atlantic ports for the economic existence of the aforementioned company.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Le Bouëdec, Gérard. Le port et l’arsenal de Lorient, de la compagnie des Indes à la marine cuirassée: Une reconversion réussie (XVIIIe–XIXe siècles). 5 vols. Paris: Compagnie des Indes, 1994.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    A study of the evolution of Lorient from its late-17th-century foundations to the end of the 19th century examining the spatial dimension of the city’s evolution, its social aspects, and its economic functions. Founded as the port of the East India Company, the city was successfully converted into a naval base.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Nières, Claude, ed. Histoire de Lorient. Toulouse, France: Privat, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      A comprehensive history of Lorient from its foundation under Minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert in the 1680s to the 21st century.

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