Marco Schnyder

«This memorandum is one of the best documents we have». The use of archives and documents by Swiss merchants in France (17th-18th centuries)

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Merchants; Archives; Documents; Identity.

Litigation was a very common phenomenon in early modern European society, because of the legal pluralism and the intense mobility of people. Conflicts frequently involved foreigners and in that sense the long-lasting presence of Swiss merchants in France offers an interesting case study. Despite the alliance treaties between the Swiss Confederacy and France giving the Swiss important privileges, their rights were often threatened by local officials. Being involved in such litigation meant fulfilling the demands of different institutions to provide proof for any rights claims. In this framework a significant number of documents were produced, collected and archived. The essay argues that these documental practices favoured a textual and collective memory among Swiss migrants, creating abroad a sort of proto-national selfconsciousness, before it appeared within the Old Swiss Confederacy itself.

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