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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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

Indeed, Voltaire showed almost no interest at all in the situation of his Protestant fellow countrymen until 1762 and the Calas case. The reason, as Adams explains, was that he was unable to forgive the Huguenots for the Camisard Revolt against the Sun King, seeing it as indicative of the politically subversive and fanatical record of French Calvinism.33 As a consequence, Voltaire had supported the measures which had been taken by the French state against the Huguenots34 and was, perhaps unsurprisingly, accused of resorting to cheap anti-Huguenot sensationalism in

in The Enlightenment and religion
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the convictions that drove it to behave as it did. Why, for example, did the episcopate approve the famously anti-papal Gallican Articles of 1682 when, in contrast, the Sorbonne refused to do so until it was forced? Most historians have simply assumed that the Articles were an expression of Louis XIV’s control over his bishops.24 But it is possible, and more appropriate, especially in the light of what we now know about the frailties of the so-called absolutist government of the Sun King, to explain the episcopate’s action in terms that do justice to the

in Fathers, pastors and kings

Louis XIV and the parlements Louis XIV’s victory on the registration of the laws would be incomplete, if not suspect.3 In fact, the Sun King exploited the venal property of the magistrates without regard for their wealth and social position and without any inclination to treat them as political partners. On the question of venality, politics and the parlements, revisionism is wrong. To see what really happened, we must examine the two issues that had always threatened the venal interests of the judges: forced loans and the sale of new offices. Forced loans In 1664

in Louis XIV and the parlements
The bid for cooperation

their capacity to influence government policy, especially financial policy, and, secondarily, whether they could induce the government to restore their augmentations de gages and other payments, thus reclaiming some of their recent losses in socio-economic ground. A larger question was whether Orléans, once he had failed in his bid for the cooperation of the parlements, would return to the authoritarian measures of Louis XIV in their regard and validate those methods as an example for future kings – whether with regard to the parlements the reign of the Sun King would

in Louis XIV and the parlements

Madame or Madame Palatine. See her letters of 27 and 30 August, and 21 September 1718, in Elisabeth Charlotte Orléans, duchesse d’, A Woman’s Life in the Court of the Sun King. Letters of Liselotte von der Pfalz, 1652–1722, trans. Elborg Forster (Baltimore, 1984), pp. 216–218. Leclercq, Histoire de la Régence, I, 168–170, drew upon Saint-Simon, Mémoires, XXXV, 142–163. For details, see Barbier, Journal historique, I, 9; Buvat [?], Gazette de la Régence, p. 279. The clerk Delisle, already at work at 6 a.m., wrote ‘Jour Remarquable’ at the top of the page which began his

in Louis XIV and the parlements
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Association and distinction in politics and religion

. 23 Norbert Elias, The Court Society , translated by Edmund Jephcott (Oxford: Blackwell, 1983), p. 101. 24 Elias, The Court Society , p. 100. 25 Ian Thompson, The Sun King's Garden: Louis XIV, André Le Nôtre and the Creation of the Gardens of

in Cultivating political and public identity