More industrious and less austere than expected: evidence from inventories of agricultural workers in north-eastern Catalonia (1725-1807)

This article studies the changes in ownership of real estate, livestock and objects belonging to agricultural workers in the region of Girona, northeastern Catalonia, through the analysis of a sample of nearly one thousand post-mortem inventories dated between 1725 and 1807. It shows that a sizable number of agricultural workers gained greater access to property rights in land and other means of production, as well as undeniable improvements in their consumption levels during that period. Regarding the latter point, comparisons with inventories of the lower classes in Great Britain and other areas of north-western Europe show that the differences are not nearly as radical as suggested by the stereotype often applied to Mediterranean areas. The article thus discusses the apriorisms that have led many researchers to reject the idea that an industrious revolution was possible in southern Europe, and vindicates the need to strengthen dialogue between historiographies ​
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