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Des bourgeoisies urbaines en quête de distinction : Les compagnies des chevaliers de l’arc, de l’arbalète et de l’arquebuse (1585-1793)

Abstract : This thesis aims to analyze the quest for social distinction, which animated the French urban bourgeoisie all along the Modern Era, through the example of the Companies of Knights of the noble games of Archery, of the Crossbow and Arquebus – a kind of sociability that persisted over the whole Ancien Régime. The framework of our study is the Kingdom of France, from the last decade of the xvith century to April 24th 1793, the day when a decree put a definitive end to what had subsisted from the companies.Following the long rise of the French Royal power, this thesis shows how important it was – for the bourgeois – to maintain this sociability in the French public space. At the crossroad of bourgeoisie history, history of sociabilities, history of games and military history of the cities, it unveils the complex relationship between bourgeois on the one hand, and municipal, royal and military authorities on the other. It also reveals the great – yet still widely underestimated – influence and numerical importance of these companies were in many cities.Part One will be dedicated to the diverse and blended origins of these companies as well as to the passion the bourgeoisie had for sociability and privileges. This part demonstrates that the constitution of urban societies of elected members – forming a chivalric order known and acknowledged across the whole Kingdom – progressively raised interest among the inhabitants of the faubourgs and villages. Moreover, it enables us to appreciate the power games and stakes in the cities through the strategies of social distinction, exemptions and maintenance of rights deployed by the the companies’ members.Part Two turn to analyze the activities of thess companies in the urban space, aspecially the shooting exercises and competitions. Constitute in Noble games and Olympic games, the Knights reinforced and maintained the idea that their exercises where elitist games, reserved to an elite they where part of. In addition to exhibiting the magnificent feasts and the chivalric dramatization, this part highlights the social, cultural and political issues of these urban events.Part Three will focus on the place dedicated to the Companies within the urban militia and on their military aspect, which was voluntarily stressed. Studying the missions given to those companies over the centuries reveals that their military function was more ideal than actual, marginal and criticized. Confined to honour places or performing security missions – which distinguished the Knights of the Noble games from the city’s militiamen – it was not until the troubled times of the French Revolution that some risks were taken, yet it did not prevent the companies from getting merged into the Garde nationale.
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Thomas Fressin. Des bourgeoisies urbaines en quête de distinction : Les compagnies des chevaliers de l’arc, de l’arbalète et de l’arquebuse (1585-1793). Histoire. Université Côte d'Azur, 2020. Français. ⟨NNT : 2020COAZ2010⟩. ⟨tel-02900020⟩

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