Meat Matters

Meat Matters

Butchers, Politics, and Market Culture in Eighteenth-Century Paris

Sydney Watts


Currently out of stock

University of Rochester Press



In this book, Watts examines why meat mattered to a growing number of Parisians and explores the political, economic and cultural matters of the meat trade in order to illuminate more fully the changing world of Old Regime Paris.
In eighteenth century Paris, municipal authorities, guild officers, merchant butchers, stall workers, and tripe dealers pledged to provide a steady supply of healthful meat to urban elites and the working poor. Meat Matters considers the formation of the butcher guild and family firms, debates over royal policy and regulation, and the burgeoning role of consumerism and public health. The production and consumption of meat becomes a window on important aspects of eighteenth-century culture, society, and politics, on class relations, and on economic change. Watts's examination of eighteenth-century market culture reveals why meat mattered to Parisians, as onetime subjects became citizens.

Sydney Watts is Assistant Professor of history at the University of Richmond. She is currently working on the history of Lent and secular society in early modern France.


July 2006
6 black and white illustrations
244 pages
9x6 in
Changing Perspectives on Early Modern Europe
ISBN: 9781580462112
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
University of Rochester Press
BISAC BUS022000, BUS070120
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Table of Contents

The Political Economy of Meat
Meat and the Social Hierarchy
Liberty and Regulation in the Cattle Markets
Order and Disorder in the Urban Meat Markets
Guild Unity and Discord
In the Service of a Master: Apprentices and Journeymen
Building the Family Firm: Marriage and Succession
Butcher Fortune and the Workings of Credit
Conclusion: The Rise of Meat


(Meat Matters) provides an often fascinating and very suggestive addition to the literature on the "consumer revolution" that has rarely yet treated the literally consumable. As a student of Steven Kaplan, Watts brings a many-sided exploration to meat similar to that Kaplan has developed magisterially for bread. . . Meat Matters explores a little known but central slice of eighteenth-century Parisian life, provides a cut across political, economic, and cultural issues that were inevitably intertwined but which are too often separated analytically, and offers a morsel of a pre-revolutionary political economy that was central to Parisian subjects/citizens. Isn't leaving you wanting more the sign of the best kind of meal? H-FRANCE, June 2009 (Julie Hardwick)

Sydney Watts's remarkable book . . . examines the history of one of the oldest and most influential Parisian guilds -- the butcher trade and its development throughout the eighteenth-century. . . . Watts offers an excellent analysis of the complex relationship between the butchers and journeymen, guild members and governmental officials, husbands and wives, meat producers and consumers. JOURNAL OF MODERN HISTORY, Vol 81, No 1 (Dorothee Brantz)

Author Bio

Sydney Watts is currently an assistant professor of history at the University of Richmond in Virginia.

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