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Law, City, and King

Law, City, and King: Legal Culture, Municipal Politics, and State Formation in Early Modern Dijon

Michael P. Breen
Volume: 6
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 275
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  • Book Info
    Law, City, and King
    Book Description:

    Law, City, and King provides important new insights into the transformation of political participation and consciousness among urban notables who bridged the gap between local society and the state in early modern France. Breen's detailed research shows h

    eISBN: 978-1-58046-687-5
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Introduction: Lawyers, Politics, and the State in Early Modern France
    (pp. 1-30)

    The summer of 1627 was a tense time in Dijon. The region’s two main royal courts, the Parlement of Burgundy and the Chamber of Accounts, were locked in a bitter conflict that had spilled into the streets of the Burgundian capital. At issue was the Masters of Accounts’ decision to purchase the offices of the newly created Cour des Aides et Finances, which conferred sovereign jurisdiction over several direct and indirect royal taxes, in spite of Parlement’s pointed refusal to register the royal edicts creating the new tribunal. In early August, a president of the Accounts, whose arrest Parlement had...

  7. Chapter 1 Lawyers and Municipal Government in Dijon
    (pp. 31-68)

    The capital of the strategic crossroads province of Burgundy, seventeenth-century Dijon was a classic bonne ville and ville parlementaire. The city, along with the rest of the duchy of Burgundy, had been “reattached” to the French crown following the death of the last great Valois duke, Charles the Bold (d. 1477). Modest in size next to great provincial centers such as Lyon, Orléans, and Marseille, Dijon nonetheless outweighed these and all but a handful of other provincial cities as a governmental and administrative center. The 1 1/2 square kilometers inside the city’s walls housed a full array of ancien régime...

  8. Chapter 2 The Avocats and the Politics of Local Privilege (1595–1648)
    (pp. 69-96)

    At the local level, the ancien régime French state was embodied primarily in the panoply of royal, seigneurial, municipal, and clerical law courts that dotted rural and (especially) urban communities. This fact had significant consequences for early modern French politics. David Parker has noted the period’s “all-pervasive legalism,” marked by “a constant preoccupation with the extent and limits of the liberties of the subject as sanctified by custom.”¹ Even at the height of Louis XIV’s reign, Parker argues, contemporaries viewed royal authority primarily in terms of distributive justice. The main obligations of the king and the royal council were “to...

  9. Chapter 3 The Collapse of the Municipal Political System (1649–68)
    (pp. 97-122)

    At the end of April 1643, Dijon’s city council received a report that one of its conseils, Pierre Guillaume, had asked Parlement to prohibit the city’s counselors from consulting with the municipal syndic in a lawsuit against the damoiselle Des Millieres. Guillaume also asked the court to forbid the mairie to use anyone other than the conseils to handle its legal affairs. In response to Guillaume’s obvious attempt to hamstring the city in its dispute with Des Millieres, the city council affirmed that “as long as there are avocats among the échevins who would like to plead or write for...

  10. Chapter 4 From Local Government to Royal Administration (1669–1715)
    (pp. 123-150)

    The situation in Burgundy’s capital after 1668 seems to bear out Nora Temple’s claim that the later Bourbons “transformed municipal officials into the petty agents of the bureaucracy,” and reduced them to the status of “simple executives, responsible to the royal government.” A number of other historians have echoed this view. Roland Mousnier, for instance, concluded that “cities and communities were increasingly administered from Paris, then Versailles, by a multitude of arrêts du conseil rendered on the basis of intendants’ reports.”¹ Robert Harding argued that although the intendants did not supplant regional governors, they did transform the crown-town relationship from...

  11. Chapter 5 Legal Culture and Political Thought in Early Seventeenth-Century Dijon
    (pp. 151-179)

    “The jurist,” François Baudouin wrote, voicing a position widely recognized in early modern France, “is a political man.”¹ In the first four chapters of this book, we have analyzed the political activities of Dijon’s avocats in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. We have shown how the avocats used the opportunities provided by the city’s large and powerful mairie to satisfy their political ambitions. At the same time, we have demonstrated how the avocats’ legal and rhetorical expertise helped Dijon’s embattled hôtel de ville maintain its jurisdictions and governing authority for more than seven decades after the Wars of Religion....

  12. Chapter 6 Custom, Reason, and the Limits of Royal Authority
    (pp. 180-206)

    As French political thought became decidedly more absolutist in tone during Louis XIV’s reign, Dijon’s avocats displayed a more traditional, constitutionalist view of the king as a “judicial monarch.” Though accepting such commonplace absolutist notions as “le mort saisit le vif,” “qui veut le roi, si veut la loi,” and “le roi est empereur en son royaume,”¹ Dijon’s avocats also called attention to the independent development of regional laws and institutions. They described these things as expressions of Burgundy’s “natural law,” thereby placing them beyond the royal prerogative. They also called attention to the contractual relationship between king and province,...

  13. Conclusion: Avocats, Politics, and “The Public” in Eighteenth-Century Dijon
    (pp. 207-226)

    Dijon’s municipal government returned to a routine, regular pattern in the decades following the passing of the Sun King. The revocation of the 1692 sale of municipal offices, which had led to their concentration in the hands of a few, reliable clients of the Condés and their agents with the ability and willingness to finance the city’s needs, led to a partial return to the system of municipal governance established by the arrêt of 20 April 1668. At the same time, further developments consolidated the mairie’s transformation from a local governmental body into an arm of the “administrative monarchy.” The...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 227-274)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 275-298)
  16. Index
    (pp. 299-308)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 309-309)