Demography, Peasantry, and Family in Early Medieval Provence, 813–814

By Irene Barbiera, Maria Castiglioni, Gianpiero Dalla-Zuanna

Compiled in 813–814, the inventory of peasants working for the Abbey of Saint Victor in Marseille offers insights into the early medieval demographic dynamics of Provence (southern France). We reconstruct the population’s age structure and find it consistent with other European medieval registers. We also infer mortality—which closely resembles data on Provençal cemeteries of the first millennium and the standard life tables with high mortality for South Europe estimated by previous studies—and marriage and birth patterns. These results suggest that in early medieval Provence, demographic pressure had been higher than that observed in France and Western Europe after the Black Death. Finally, we analyse the way peasantry was settled and exploited in both flat and mountainous areas, clarifying the relationships between population settlements, environment, and production.

  • demography of the Middle Ages
  • population structure and dynamics
  • population and environment
  • Provence
  • France
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