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Between 1550 and 1730, privileged investors in France—nobles, officers, and wealthy merchants—bought up enormous quantities of land from peasants. The transfer of property has attracted considerable attention from historians, but it has never been satisfactorily explained. The paper invokes the tax exemptions the privileged enjoyed to account for the transfer—an explanation that fits both the chronology of the land sales and the identity of the purchasers. The paper then examines how the taxdoi:10.1017/s0022050700045496 fatcat:kgvnf6ox4fgb3po2jocv3mc4py