In seventeenth-century France, families were essential as both agents and objects in the shaping of capitalism and growth of powerful states-phenomena that were critical to the making of the modern world. Through a pioneering exploration of civil lawsuits in French cities, Family Businessreveals the part that the management of everyday difficulties, in court and out, played in the wider processes of the expansion of government and economic transition.Julie Hardwick examines the importance of the long history of the relationship between families, economies, and states. This relationship has been frequently reframed, but the perils as well as the promises have persisted. Then, as now, husbands and wives often found the experience of marriage to befraught with uncertainty and risk; economic insecurity and ubiquitous borrowing were critical challenges; domestic violence was a telling marker of inequality in families. Focusing on working families who lived through this period of major upheaval, Hardwick demonstrates that, in all these regards, litigation was a key means of negotiating and contesting the challenges of daily life.