This article analyzes transformations of domestic organization, transmission of material and symbolic goods, and representations of the “house” (after Claude Lévi-Strauss) by examining the Vassé, a provincial noble family living in the Maine and at Paris, at court, or in the army, depending on the circumstances. Articulating the social history and anthropology of kinship shows the fundamentally cognatic character of kinship among the nobility: the importance of marriage, and transmission through women, but also the social processes that led to an extreme valorization of the patrilineage. In the process it also shows how the noble “house” was enfeebled by the simultaneous reinforcement of patrilineality and loosening of the relationship to seigneuries and property, which reduced the place of goods in family continuity in favor of blood ties, resulting in a system different from the sixteenth-century system of multiple alliances and the establishment of several heirs.

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