Eighteenth-Century Matrimonial Strategies and Emigration to the Americas: The House of Berrio in La Bastide Clairence

Force, Pierre

Prior to the massive wave of emigration to South America during the nineteenth century, inhabitants of rural communities in the western French Pyrenees emigrated in large numbers to Saint-Domingue and other Caribbean islands. This article examines the connections between migratory movements and the organization of these communities into “house societies” (Lévi-Strauss) in which the continuation of the “house” was paramount and no new “houses” could be founded. Adopting a micro-historical approach, it analyzes the complex role of inheritance rights in the decision to emigrate and reconstructs the networks that made emigration possible. Unlike the traditional belief that sons were forced to leave because they were deprived of their share of inheritance, the family unit fully supported the emigration of its younger members. This article also argues that emigration simultaneously resulted from and undermined the “house system.”

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Also Published In

Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales (English Edition)

More About This Work

Academic Units
French and Romance Philology
Published Here
October 29, 2013


A version of this article is available in French at