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6 Confronting the Parlement of Paris, 1718 The menacing appearance of d’Argenson, the new keeper of the seals and president of the Council of Finances, so frightened contemporaries that they called him Rhadamanthus, a judge of the underworld in Greek mythology known for his stern sense of justice. But d’Argenson’s efficiency as chief of police for Paris, his talent for making rapid decisions and his ability, even at the age of sixty-five, to work through the day and into the night, or vice versa, also won their respect. Experienced in government and an early

in Louis XIV and the parlements
The assertion of royal authority

This study examines the political and economic relationship between Louis XIV and the parlements of France, the parlement of Paris and all the provincial tribunals. It explains how the king managed to overcome the century-old opposition of the parlements to new legislation, and to impose upon them the strict political discipline for which his reign is known. The work calls into question the current revisionist understanding of the reign of Louis XIV and insists that, after all, absolute government had a harsh reality at its core. When the king died in 1715, the regent, Philippe d'Orleans, after a brief attempt to befriend the parlements through compromise, resorted to the authoritarian methods of Louis XIV and perpetuated the Sun King's political and economic legacy.

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7 Sequels The regent’s victory in the lit de justice came opportunely, as his government still faced two troublesome, leftover issues. The first involved the Parlement of Rennes. Lethargic in the first half of 1718, the Breton tribunal roused itself that summer in sympathy with the Parlement of Paris and opened another political front, so to speak. Had the Bretons prevailed, they might have cancelled the advantages accruing to the government from the lit de justice, setting a bad example for other provincial tribunals and possibly inspiring the Parisian

in Louis XIV and the parlements
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proves convincing, the political subjugation (not too strong a word) of the parlements should bulk larger in our assessments of the Sun King’s reign. All the current general treatments, along with recent biographies, have underestimated the depth and significance of this achievement. It is time to give it due interpretative weight. Arguably, the victory won by Louis XIV was of such consequence that it influenced the government’s relations with the tribunals into the middle of the eighteenth century. Until about 1750, the behaviour of the Parlement of Paris is described

in Louis XIV and the parlements
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Sovereignty and registration of the laws

treated the king’s new laws. Jean Bodin, the most incisive political thinker of sixteenth-century France, identified the giving of laws to all subjects without their consent as the hallmark of sovereignty, by which he meant supreme, permanent power in the state. In France, sovereignty belonged to the king, so that legislative sovereignty coincided with royal sovereignty, or puissance absolue. Bodin also said that sovereignty could not be divided, shared or delegated. On the surface, magistrates of the Parlement of Paris accepted all of this and periodically, sometimes

in Louis XIV and the parlements

parlementary seat. Under the new policy, a magistrate had to buy an augmentations de gages equal in value to his annual paulette, set at one-sixtieth of the appraised value of the office. Since office values differed significantly from one parlement to the next, the droit annuel and augmentations de gages varied in proportion. But all the judges determined how much money they needed for an augmentations de gages in exactly the same way. A lay councillor in the Parlement of Paris paid a droit annuel of four hundred livres and had to buy a ‘salary increase’ of the same amount. The

in Louis XIV and the parlements
The bid for cooperation

5 The regent and the parlements: the bid for cooperation On 2 September 1715, the Parlement of Paris recognized Philippe, duc d’Orléans, a grandson of Louis XIII and the nephew of the late Louis XIV, as regent of France, with the exercise of sovereignty until Louis XV, five years old, came of age. In so doing, the tribunal set aside the political articles of the testament of the late king who, distrusting Orléans, had denied him the title of regent and merely named him chief of a Regency Council, where he could be outvoted by rivals and enemies. Although the

in Louis XIV and the parlements

it is this way now’.2 If Colbert had lost so much interest in the parlements, this could only mean that the king had finally rendered them politically harmless, completing the work begun in the ordinance of civil procedure. This chapter will explain when and how this important change occurred and what it meant in terms of issues, events and circumstances. For the most part our interest in this chapter lies with the provincial parlements, inasmuch as the Parlement of Paris, having been chastised in the lit de justice of 1669, remained reasonably calm. The resistance

in Louis XIV and the parlements
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The revolt of democratic Christianity and the rise of public opinion

prohibition of a new intake). The abbey was demolished, its inmates divided and transported to other unsympathetic houses, its graves emptied and the land ploughed to remove all traces of its existence. This sparked a train of events that, over the next fifty or so years, produced bitter divisions and frontal assaults on royal and Roman ‘despotism’. On one side were the episcopate, King and government, and on the other Jansenists, popular support and the Parlement of Paris and other provincial parlements. What interests us here is how the views of reforming clergy and their

in The Enlightenment and religion

, the Conseil d’État et des Finances, which also issued decrees concerning the tribunals. Even before he became controller general of finances in 1665, Colbert had taken over all political and financial relations with the law courts, having driven the aging Chancellor Séguier out of most areas of domestic administration, a sharp break with traditional practice.2 For the most part, Colbert approached the Parlement of Paris and the provincial tribunals with firmness but with no a priori intention of reducing their role in French public life, let alone in the registration

in Louis XIV and the parlements