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L’autorité de l’Etat : les relations entre les préfets, les sous-préfets, les maires et la population en Lorraine au XIXe siècle (1800-1870)

Abstract : Considering the historians’ recent growing interest for the topic of authority, which can be defined, according to Larousse’s Grand Dictionnaire universel du XIXe siècle, as « the right or the power to order, to be obeyed », this thesis aims at studying the authority of the state through the angle of the authority exerted by three of its representatives in the province (the prefects, the sub-prefects and the mayors), from 1800, when Napoleon Bonaparte reorganized the french administration, till the end of the Second Empire. This dissertation will endeavour to analyse in which frame and how the prefects, the sub-prefects and the mayors managed to make the population obey both to their persons, the regime they represented and the state they embodied, as well as to identify the difficulties they were confronted with. To study a wide range of situations, but in a relatively restricted area, so as to analyse them as precisely as possible, we decided to focus on the four departments of Lorraine (Meurthe, Meuse, Moselle et Vosges). First, studying the relationship between the civil servants and the population implies to examine the framework, elaborated by the state, in which the authority of its representatives was exerted. The model, built during the Consulate and the first Empire, of a strong delegated authority, based on extended powers, on the professional expertise of the administrators, as well as on their social competences, has been precisely analysed. Even if it was globally maintened by all the following regimes up to 1870, this model knew, nevertheless, some transformations and modulations, which we tried to examine. The administrators found in this frame some tools to assert their authority on the people, and some instructions to obey, but no definite ways to proceed. Thus, the thesis secondly attempts to examine how they exerted their authority on a daily basis. Looking at the way they built and maintened their authority, we realize they used not only their professionnal skills, but also their individual qualities and their status of the state representative. But the administrators had to face up to some difficulties – competition with the other persons who had some authority, hard crises which questionned their influence (the invasions and the occupations of 1814-1815) and citizens’ protests – which put their authority to the test and could impact their careers.
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François-Xavier Martischang. L’autorité de l’Etat : les relations entre les préfets, les sous-préfets, les maires et la population en Lorraine au XIXe siècle (1800-1870). Histoire. Université de Lorraine, 2016. Français. ⟨NNT : 2016LORR0175⟩. ⟨tel-01752381⟩

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