Thursday, March 14, 2013

Work for a doctoral scholar in French history

Once upon a time, if you had asked me what the word "terrier" means, I would have said that it designates the kind of little dog you see in the celebrated painting of His Master's Voice. As a boy in South Grafton, I used regularly a spring-driven 78 rpm gramophone to play vinyl records, many of which carried the familiar image of the fox terrier.

Ignoring languages and etymology, I could not know that our own lovable smooth fox terrier on the farm at Waterview derived his name from the fact that he was an "earth dog" (Latin terra, "earth"), capable of burrowing into the ground in search of foxes.

Upon my arrival here in Choranche, a couple of decades ago, I heard of a second meaning of the word "terrier": a register of parcels of land whose owners owe allegiance (or taxes) to such-and-such a lord or superior body. That definition isn't meant to be rigorous.

In the space of a few years, by accident, I've stumbled upon two separate terriers concerning the Royans region in which I live. And, in both cases, I've obtained an authorization enabling me to publish, through a website, the original documents of the terrier in question. Each of my bulky Flash-based websites takes a while to load.

• 14th-century terrier
Established by the Sassenage family in 1351-1356. website
• 18th-century terrier
Established by the Order of Malta in 1780. website
In the context of French history, it's exceptional that two sets of precious documents of this kind, covering a time span of four centuries, have survived, and are available today for study. The investigation of these two quite different terriers would surely be a fascinating theme for a doctoral scholar, maybe attached to a university in the UK or America. I would be happy to handle requests for further information from interested researchers.

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