Eighteen months after the assault on the Bastille prison in Paris, France was still in turmoil. The effects of the many changes were felt even in the deep countryside.
- Chateaux were being destroyed
- Tithing was abolished
- The salt tax was abolished
- Hunting rights were rescinded
- The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen had been declared, granting freedom of religion, equality before the law, universal suffrage, equality of the sexes - in theory anyway
- Eighty-three departments had been created
- Paper money was introduced
- Church property was nationalized
In January of 1791, the Constitution had not yet been proclaimed and the Republic was more than a year and a half in the future. It was a time of uncertainty, and this is reflected in the marriage contract of Bernard LaMothe and Charlotte Teullet.
It was drawn up in the village of La Valade, near Saint-Avit-de-Vialard, in Dordogne, by the notaire Pierre Fourié, who was about thirty-five kilometers from his home in Molières. (This was at a time when notaires still went about from village to village, drawing up the contracts people needed.) The Republican Calendar is not yet being used, so he wrote the date in the old way as the "nineteenth of January, one thousand seven hundred ninety-one", and referred to himself as a "Notaire Royal".
The people to be married were Bernard LaMothe, owner and resident of nearby Pradelles (now the Domaine de Pradelle if you want to stay there) and Charlotte Teullet. The numerous witnesses included two men named Reymond Giry (Bernard's mother was a Giry) and Charlotte's mother and uncle. Her father was deceased.
They both agreed in the contract to bring to the union all of their goods, possessions, income and land rights, and that these and any more produced during the time of the marriage would go to their children.
The contract shown in the photos is a copy made at the time, in which the notaire states that he affixed a royal seal [to the original] in the presence of all the above, plus further witnesses, Philippe Delpech and Jean Giry.
Then, all signed, except the bride. When the notaire asked her, she said that she did not know how to write. Fourié added that he was to register the contract before the twenty-fourth of January, which was presumably the planned date of the marriage.
As per the website of the Departmental Archives of Dordogne, the parish registrations for the town of Saint-Avit-de-Vialard did not survive in those turbulent times, though his death registration shows that Bertrand LaMothe did marry Charlotte Teullet (or Teulet). This marriage contract is the only record relating to the union and perhaps the only one naming so many relatives.
©2015 Anne Morddel