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Oncles et tantes au XVIIIe siècle : au cœur de la parenté, quelle présence quels rôles ?

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  • Marion Trévisi

Abstract

[fre] La place des oncles et tantes dans les familles françaises d'une grande partie Nord de la France au XVIIIe siècle, n'est pas secondaire, notamment sur le plan démographique. De sa naissance à ses vingt ans, un individu était entouré par cinq à six oncles et tantes, consanguins comme alliés, qu'il perdait rapidement après son trentième anniversaire. Les oncles et tantes étaient bien plus présents que les grands-parents sur le plan démographique, alors qu'ils apparaissent peu au sein des sources historiques traditionnelles. Le lien avunculaire est, en effet, rarement exprimé dans les actes notariés, les registres paroissiaux ou encore les archives judiciaires. Il n'est visible que lors des «grands moments» du cycle de vie (baptême, mariage, décès), ou en période de «crise» de la famille ; la spécificité du lien avunculaire apparaît surtout à travers le parrainage, la transmission et la tutelle. La mobilisation des oncles et des tantes est spécifique quand elle suit une logique de parenté de remplacement ou de substitution: le lien avunculaire est valorisé quand les oncles et les tantes jouent le rôle de père ou de mère en «second» pour leurs neveux et nièces. En dehors de cette mobilisation préférentielle, les relations avunculaires sont limitées à des interventions ponctuelles, parfois anec- dotiques qui ne diffèrent pas de celles des autres parents. Au XVIIIe siècle, les oncles et tantes sont les seuls parents à pouvoir «remplacer» les parents biologiques de leurs neveux et nièces: les grands-parents sont souvent trop âgés ou absents, alors que les frères et sœurs sont trop jeunes. La spécificité de leur rôle tient dans ce lien de substitution. [eng] The role of uncles and aunts in Northern France families in the XVIIIth century is far from being secondary, especially from a demographic viewpoint. From his birth to his twenties, a person is surrounded by five or six uncles and aunts, who are either consanguine or allied and who would die after his thirties. From a demographic viewpoint, uncles and aunts are more present than grandparents, but this, historical traditional archives would not show. Avuncular bonds will indeed hardly appear in notarial or judicial archives and parochial records. They are more obvious when families experience "great moments" in the cycle of life (baptism, weeding, death) or crises. When it is as- sociated with other ties such as christening, transmission and guardianship, the avuncular bond draws its uniqueness. Uncles and aunts role is even more specific when it corresponds to a kinship logic of replacement or substitution. The avuncular bond then becomes essential, aunts and uncles are the surrogate father and mother of their nieces and nephews. Apart from this preferential involvement, the avuncular bond is limited to occasional and sometimes anecdotal interventions, which cannot be distinguished from the other family ties. In the XVIIIth century, uncles and aunts are the only one able to "replace" the biological parents of their nieces and nephews. Grand-parents are often too old or absent and brothers and sisters are too young. The specificity of their role lies in this link of substitution.

Suggested Citation

  • Marion Trévisi, 2004. "Oncles et tantes au XVIIIe siècle : au cœur de la parenté, quelle présence quels rôles ?," Histoire, économie & société, Programme National Persée, vol. 23(2), pages 283-302.
  • Handle: RePEc:prs:hiseco:hes_0752-5702_2004_num_23_2_2423
    Note: DOI:10.3406/hes.2004.2423
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