A very rich French nobleman with an estate in Alsace dies unmarried, leaving no children, no surviving parents, no brothers, and two surviving sisters.
1) How much of his property, movable and immovable, can he alienate?
2) Less important, but I'm curious. My character is a count. He inherited the title from his father, who was made a count for services to the King, and who left no other surviving male descendants (only two childless daughters). What happens to the title? Does it die out, or does it revert to some cousin somewhere? If the latter, does that affect the cousin's claim to the estate?
Google search terms: entailment, france entailment, france law entailment, ordonnance concernant les substitutions 1747, ordinance of 1731 on gifts, ordinance of 1735 on wills, france provinces roman law customary law, alsace customary law, alsace inheritance law, alsace inheritance law ancien regime, quotité disponible, acquêts et propres, acquets inheritance, pays coutumiers, coutume de Paris, quotité disponible childless, succession célibataire, réserve héréditaire et succession célibataire.
JSTOR articles: "Rules of Inheritance and Strategies of Mobility in Prerevolutionary France", "The Local Law of Alsace-Lorraine: A Half Century of Survival".
Google books: Studies of Family Life: A Contribution to Social Science, Inheritance in Nineteenth-century French Culture: Wealth, Knowledge and the Family, Is Inheritance Legitimate?: Ethical and Economic Aspects of Wealth Transfers, Catalogue of Books on Foreign Law: Founded on the Collection Presented by Charles Purton Cooper, Esq., to the Society of Lincoln's Inn. Laws and Jurisprudence of France., The Law Times Reports, Volume 42, Commentaries on American Law, Volume 4, Inherited Wealth, Democracy in America: And Two Essays on America (de Tocqueville).
I've discovered that Alsace was one of the pays coutumiers, and furthermore that its own coutume and not that of Paris applied in the 18th century. I've discovered that the Coutume de Paris distinguished between a réserve héréditaire, which designated a portion of the inheritance that had to be inherited by descendants, ancestors, or collateral relatives, and the quotité disponible, the portion the testator could alienate.
I've discovered that in the 18th century, entailments were allowed in some of the pays coutumiers, but with limitations on the number of generations (in some cases, only 2 generations could bound by an entailment), and that the Civil Code did away with entailments. I learned a lot about how the Civil Code overhauled inheritance law. I learned a lot about the reincorporation of Alsace into France after 1919 and which parts of the local law were kept, even where they contradicted French law.
I've read de Tocqueville comparing American inheritance law to French (Civil Code) inheritance law, which is after my period. I've learned a lot about making up your will in France today, which is way after my period. I found Voltaire describing the exact problem of my period, which is that when you travel through 18th century France, you change legal systems as often as you change your horse!
It's been a very educational evening. But what I can't find is the specific law governing the disposition of the movable wealth and estate by unmarried childless noblemen in Alsace in the 18th century. Help?