Confronting the Parlement of Paris, 1718
in Louis XIV and the parlements

This chapter depicts the circumstances under which d'Argenson, the new keeper of the seals and president of the Council of Finances, confronted the parlement and the resulting outcome of this confrontation. D'Argenson castigated the Parlement for trying to usurp royal authority, arrogating to itself power which belonged to the king alone, his main thesis during the entire clash, and declared that the tribunal had tried to lift itself above the other superior courts of Paris, claiming authority over financial issues which lay outside its sphere. The lit de justice, as d'Argenson put it, would redress the tilting balance between the monarch and the Parlement, the paramount issue of the day. 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 d'Argenson, Law and the policies of Orléans. The arrest of three judges stood as a warning to others. Those magistrates who had been the most vocal throughout the disputes of 1717 and 1718 fell silent; and First President Mesmes fell ill, suffering an apparent stroke.

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Louis XIV and the parlements

The assertion of royal authority

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