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
about ﬁnances, d’Aguesseau acting as spokesman for Orléans. It seemed as
though, once again, the regent would seek the cooperation and friendship of
Each side wanted something from the other. For the ﬁrst time since the lit de
justice the government thought it needed the Parlement to register a new law –
-an edict to create twenty-ﬁve million livres in rentes at 2.5 percent interest, for
a capital of one billion livres. The money was to be used to redeem notes on the
Bank and thus to liquidate the System. Although the government had been legislating for
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
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
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
praesertim D. Caroli Borromaei S. R. E. C., archiep.
Mediolan. theoria et praxi accurate collectum, complectens summatius omnia (Paris 1668), p. 11;
Camus, Hiérarque, pp. 148–51, 226; Réné Le Mee, Le prélat accomply, répresenté en la personne
d’illustrissime seigneur Philippe Cospéan, évesque et comte de Lisieux (Saumur 1647), pp. 205–6;
Molinier, Donadieu, p. 165; Noulleau, Villazel, pp. 17–18; de Paul, Correspondance, ii,
p. 625, Solminihac to de Paul, 31 July 1646.
Camus, Hiérarque, pp. 74–81.
Lettre de l’assemblée generale du clergé de France: au pape Urbain VIII sur