An international adventure of research

This is the first English item of « Parliament of Paris. XVIth-XVIIIth centuries », a research chronicle in exceptional archives. The topic of this « notebook » is the history of the institution, law, justice and magistracy of the Parliament of Paris in Modern Times. At the moment, the investigations are significantly increasing not only through new and complementary approaches or points of views, but also through a renewal of the problem in linking together judicial practices and ideological evolution falling in the scope of Absolutism. Investigations about Parliament received, years ago, the great and now ancient help of Anglo-Saxon historiographiers and, more generally, of foreign researchers. With Internet, research is carried out on a worldwide scale. The present sub-editor hopes her initiative will be understood as a real and wholehearted invitation to work together on this Hypothesis’ weblog. So the site is bilingual and we’ll translate the articles or comments as often as possible.

More than in any other fields, at least in France, we have to emphasize the particular, maybe exceptional aspect of the Parliament of Paris : its early installation (middle of the XIIIth century), its long-lasting (until the French Revolution, at the end of the XVIIIth century), variety and difference of its judicial and functional competences (civil and criminal jurisdiction, court of peers, but also administrative and political functions), the size of its geographical jurisdiction (between one third and a half of the kingdom) even in the XVIIIth century France). Its central role in general royal French History makes it a difficult subject which can induce discussions, questions or controversies. In his or her modest situation, the researcher can only move forward from one hypothesis to another, marking his (her) route with confirmed and ratified pieces of information.

Isabelle Brancourt

Agrégée d'Histoire (1986), docteur de l'Université de Lille (1992), HDR (2005). Professeur dans l'enseignement secondaire de 1982 à 1991; PRAG puis maître de conférences à l'Université d'Artois de 1992 à 2000 ; chargée de recherche au CNRS depuis 2000, aujourd'hui à l'IHPC (Ens-Lyon-CNRS).

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3rd April 1770 : Parliamentary transfer to Versailles for the Duke of Aiguillon’s trial

Ce résumé en anglais renvoie à l’article publié le 13 mars 2009.

For many decades, parliamentary crisis in the French Old Regime was interpreted as a conflict between two forms of Royal Justice: « delegated » Justice (« justice déléguée ») and « held back » Justice (justice « retenue »), likewise of two sorts of royal agents: « officers » and « commissioners ». As we demonstrated in a previous study, moving the Court generally concurred with a difficult moment of political confrontation. We have reason to believe that circumstances of displacements highlight the parliamentary conception of its link with the king’s power and the real basis of the clash. This transfer of the court is the last episode of Parliament rebelling against the Absolute Monarchy, under Louis XV’s reign. It found its tragic outcome in the famous judiciary Maupeou’s reform, in January 1771. The event was left out our general study about Parliament’s transfers, but bookseller’s Journal, now printed, allowed us to complete this research, returning to the records. Actually, the king gave a letter to order the transfer of the Court of peers which was only able to judge Duke of Aiguillon, a peer of France. The duke was involved in a criminal prosecution concerning his administration in Brittany during the Seven Years War. Previous cases of Vendôme and Noyon, in the Fifteenth Century, had required the king’s personal presidency. In 1770, the problem lies in the role of moving the Court to Versailles. The development of the facts and the abrupt interruption of the lawsuit in a « lit de justice » (27th June) clearly showed that Louis XV could not disclaim his governor’s authorship. We argue that this affair reveals that royal State and constitutional State were fundamentally unbalanced despite the great contribution of the royal judicial institution to increasing the second one.

Isabelle Brancourt

Agrégée d'Histoire (1986), docteur de l'Université de Lille (1992), HDR (2005). Professeur dans l'enseignement secondaire de 1982 à 1991; PRAG puis maître de conférences à l'Université d'Artois de 1992 à 2000 ; chargée de recherche au CNRS depuis 2000, aujourd'hui à l'IHPC (Ens-Lyon-CNRS).

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