The Condition of the Lyon Weavers in the Letters to Louis XV and Monseigneur Poulletier (1731 and 1732)
- Royal Ordinance
On 8th May, 1731, an ordinance of Louis XV, King of France, imposed separation between the production and sale activities of the weavers of ‘gold, silver and silk’ at the famous Lyon Manufactory in which hundreds of families worked. The ordinance plunged into despair the workers (maîtres ouvriers) who, up till then, for centuries, had been allowed to sell their goods freely and were now in danger of being reduced to poverty by a handful of traffickers who knew nothing about their extremely sophisticated, skilful trade, but would be enabled to capitalize on their work. They therefore addressed two petitions (the first in 1731 and the second in 1732) to the King and Monseigneur Poulletier, the King’s Superintendent and the Manufactory’s Overseer, asking for the abrogation of the ordinance and a revision of the Manufactory’s regulations. The interesting aspect of these two petitions is that they show the workers’ consciousness of their rights; indeed, their denunciation of these abuses foretells, a century before, the two important revolts of the canuts (as the Lyon textile workers were known) which were to break out in 1831 and 1834.