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It has been long established that the demographic transition began in eighteenth-century France, yet there is no consensus on exactly why fertility declined. This analysis links fertility life histories to wealth at death data for four rural villages in France, 1750-1850. For the first time, the wealth-fertility relationship during the onset of the French fertility decline can be analysed. Where fertility is declining, wealth is a powerful predictor of smaller family size. This article argues that fertility decline in France was a result of changing levels of economic inequality, associated with the 1789 Revolution. In cross-section, the data support this hypothesis: where fertility is declining, economic inequality is lower than where fertility is high.