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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