Provencal - Kinship, Marriage, and Family

Kin Groups and Descent. The "conjugal unit" is Commonly referred to as the famille. It consists of a husband and wife and their unmarried offspring. The term ménage refers to "household," which consists of a coresidential kin core and its dependents. It is usually used interchangeably with famille. Kinship or parenté is reckoned bilaterally, and it is applied to both affinal and consanguineal kin.

Marriage. In rural Provence, women and men tend to marry in their early twenties. There is no strict postmarital residence rule, but the newly married couple tends to reside in a separate residence, close to the location of their principal source of income. In farm households this of course means close to the holdings operated by the farmer. In rural Provence, the preferred marriage partner is a person who owns land.

Domestic Unit. The ménage in rural Provence may consist of many arrangements. In some households, several Generations may live together and grandparents, parents, and children may take meals together and participate in the running of the household and the farm. Other households may consist only of a couple and their unmarried children. Other domestic arrangements may involve kin living under the same roof, but in different quarters, forming separate households.

Inheritance. In the late eighteenth century, the Napoleonic Code abolished primogeniture, and all legitimate off-spring, female and male, came to be legally entitled to an equal share of their parents' estate. The division of property in practice in rural Provence may take a variety of forms. For example, land may be distributed among sons and cash and movable property distributed among daughters. The different forms of property division respond to the pressure preventing, if possible, the further fragmentation of already small holdings.

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