France Livres De Raison (Family Account Books)
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A livre de raison (from the Latin liber rationis or liber rationum , that is to say "book of accounts") is a register of domestic accounting also including family or local notations. Held by the father, it was a reminder for the author, but it was primarily intended to inform his heirs. Frequently, the same livre de raison was transmitted from generation to generation, each head of family holding it in turn. Wikipedia
Older books due back to the14th century. The oldest known is that of Jean Blaise, doctor of King Robert and merchant, preserved in the Archives of Marseille (1313-1337). They become relatively numerous in the 16th and 17th centuries. Most writers of livres de raison are gentlemen, merchants, lawyers, sometimes priests, rarely artisans.
"Apart from more or less well-kept or detailed accounts, the content of a book of reason can be extremely varied. It can be found all that is of interest to the editor: managing the family patrimony (purchases, sales, loans or loans, construction, etc.); genealogies; scoring of family events (births, marriages, deaths, which sometimes give rise to reflections or the expression of intimate feelings); meteorology and local natural disasters; relationship of travel, near or far made by the editor; echo of political events affecting the whole kingdom. Everything about health often plays an important role: details of illnesses affecting family members, recipes for medicines, prayers to holy healers ..." Wikipedia
"These books were essentially family account books, usually of farms or businesses, but sometimes of shops. Often, they span centuries and can contain an extraordinary amount of detail, including:
- Running accounts
- Copies of bills paid for all sorts of items or services, including veterinaries
- Copies of wills
- Copies of baptism, birth, marriage, death and burial registrations
- Lists of heirs
- Maps of lands
- Property ownership histories
- Notes on local events and/or catastrophes
- Pages from almanacs"
Accessing the Records
- Gallica: type in the title (titre) field "livre de raison" with the quotes. In "By type of documents" (type de document), click only "manuscript" (manuscrit) and "monograph" (monographie).
- The Archives Nationales list : a comprehensive list of those held in Departmental Archives and in libraries throughout France.
- Google Books has several e-books of published family accounts.
- HathiTrust has several e-books of published family accounts.