This report by the Minister of the Interior on the harvest failure of 1816 and the food rioting which subsequently erupted in many cities and towns could have been written in similar terms during earlier crises, in 1775 or even 1709. In refusing to accept high prices, working people in Toulouse were manifesting age-old hostility to merchants and revealing the primacy of food prices in matters of survival. Similarly, the regime’s responses to the crisis — prohibiting exports and making large purchases overseas — were of a long-established type. Louis exhibited ‘his continual goodness and his truly fatherly concern for his subjects’ by dispensing charity in Lyon and placing a special order for silk for royal palaces. His officials also employed the ancien-régime tactic of using police agents to identify troublesome workers, supplemented by legislation from the Revolution and Empire prohibiting strikes and ‘coalitions’.
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