I subscribe to a great blog called The French Genealogy Blog. Today their post is about The Beleaguered Nobility of Brittany. In short, it describes how Louis XIV wanted to establish who in his realm was truly of the nobility and who was not. Apparently, nobility did not pay many forms of taxes, which meant that there was obviously a financial incentive for many to become what were known as “false nobles”. This problem was particularly severe in Bretagne. I was unaware of this until now.
Within the post, other links to very useful websites are provided which may or may not help you with your research into your Breton ancestors, but they are never-the-less all worth a look at.
I doubt I have any nobility in my Breton ancestors, the Rabet’s. So far their statuses have been:
Laboureur – which has a variety of meanings including ploughman/ peasant or small tenant farmer rich enough to own their own plough (p228 – Soldier and Peasant in French Popular Culture, 1766-1870)
Cowman – herder of cows
Agricultural Labourer - a person who tills the soil for a living.