Rafe Blaufarb examines the interwoven problems of taxation and socialprivilege in this treatment of the contention over fiscal privilege betweenthe seigneurial nobility and the tax-payers of Provence. From the1530s until the French Revolution and beyond, a series of deceptivelysimple questions divided privileged from non-privileged elites in theprovince: what made land noble and, hence, tax exempt; how couldland acquire or lose noble status? Aired in tribunals ranging from localvillage courts to the royal council in Versailles, these questions fueleda long-running dispute that shaped the political life of early modernProvence, planted the seeds of revolutionary social conflict, and influencedprovincial politics into the nineteenth century.This book sheds new light on two major fields of scholarly enquiry -- early modern state-formation and revolutionary origins -- and suggestsa new explanation for the rise and fall of French absolutism. By fosteringconflict between different kinds of local elites, taxation not onlyundermined provincial cohesion and invited the intervention of royalauthority but also helped to generate the salient social antagonismsof 1789. Although the book treats only a single province, its long-termchronology and broad source base ranging from village archives to therecords of the central state provide a more holistic view of early modernFrench history than shorter-term, Paris-centered studies.