This assumption of silence is based at least partly on the available documentation.
The peasantry was a political non-entity under the Old Regime; administrators and police forces did not expect farmers to express political opinions, and as a result, those opinions do not jump out of the historical record.
Although some trees were felled for construction, Marrot knew that the great majority of the wood being harvested was half-burned and hardened in a slow fire to produce charcoal, an activity that ensured the survival of the villagers through the long winter.
When the state officials began to pronounce that no one, not even the villagers of Brassac, had the right to harvest trees from this particular forest, Marrot became angry and spoke out.
However, the story of Marrot suggests that the political awareness of the majority was already a reality when the Bastille fell.
In the past fifteen years, we have made much of Jürgen Habermas' concept of an eighteenth-century public sphere, an urban space in which public opinion developed, flourished, and came to exert pressure on the authorities.
By the height of the Terror, peasants and village artisans were being charged with anti-revolutionary, counter-revolutionary, or seditious speech on just about every topic, to the point that even a wistful comment that "things had been better under the Old Regime" could warrant a death sentence.
However, Jean Marrot did not make his comment about the villagers' rights to forest land in 1793 but, rather, in 1758.
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On a chilly day in late November, a peasant named Jean Marrot, who lived in the village of Brassac in the Pyrenees mountains south of Foix, went for a walk in the woods near his home.