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.
absolute government but also contingent upon the events of the 1670s and the personal decisions of Louis XIV.
Nothing ensured that the king would subject the parlements to such a stern
regimen; he might have stopped with the rules he established in 1667, more in
line with those of his predecessors, and avoided a showdown, as they always
did. Instead, he put the parlements in their place and kept them there until he
died. When the regent Philipped’Orléans, after a brief conciliatory period,
enjoyed a fresh success with authoritarian methods, he demonstrated once
This chapter sketches the state of affairs during which the regent Philippe d'Orléans suppressed the last traces of dissidence in the Parlement of Rennes, kept his thumb on the Parlement of Paris and settled augmentations de gages on terms of his choosing. During this time, he resolved the political and financial questions left over from the preceding reign. At every key point involving these intertwined issues, d'Orléans got his way by resorting to coercion and by overriding the wishes of the majority of the judges, damaging their constitutional and socio-economic interests along the way. On the most important issues involving the parlements, the past reign flowed into its successor, after the brief interlude in which Orléans had vainly practised conciliation. Thus the regency not only benefited from the gains Louis XIV made at the expense of the parlements; it ratified and perpetuated those gains, passing them down the century.
will show how Louis XIV overcame the parlements’ defence of venality,
forcing them to pay for repeated augmentations de gages and to accept the creation of as many oﬃces as the king could sell, at the cost to the magistrates of
falling oﬃce prices and heavy personal debt, the social and economic consequences of political defeat. Chapters 5–7 explain how the parlements tried, and
failed, to recover from these interrelated losses in the post-1715 regency of
Philipped’Orléans. Louis XIV’s gains would largely endure; he had indeed
inserted the keystone into the arch of
Parlement, in terms of the regency of
For 1718, the expression lit de justice should be used, in the manner of synecdoche, one part standing for the whole, to designate all the related events that
occurred in the four days from 26 to 29 August, before and after the ceremony
itself. In this extended sense, we can agree with the gazeteer Buvat that the lit
de justice changed everything.
It handed the Parlement a stinging defeat and boosted the political authority
of the regent. Because of the lit de justice, the Parlement ceased to resist