"Treason is a crime which has a vague circumference and more than one
F. Polack and F.W. Maitland,
The History of English Law (Cambridge, 1985), II, 503
"J'attendray à vous mander au long mes pensées sur ce sujet après
celles que vous aurez puisées dans l'abisme judiciaire dont les chanceliers
sont joujours pourveus."
Richelieu to Chavigny and Sublet de Noyers, August 2, 1642,
Avenel, VII, letter xxxvii
Although reading Joël Blanchard's Commynes et les procès politiques de Louis XI (Paris: Picard, 2008), and Hélène Fernandez-La Côte's Les Procès de Richelieu (Paris: Champ Vallon, 2010) will be our first centers of attention, William Farr Church's notes on the history of lèse-majesté will be the more personal and precise focus for this writing. I humbly dedicate what follows to Church. In a conversation about whether or not Montesquieu was a jurist, Church remarked to me: "The work of the jurist always supports the crown." He did not say whether he thought Montesquieu was a jurist! Answering the question, as stated, could become the work of a lifetime.
We shall find that Nancy Roelker and Donald Kelley carefully went over Church's notes and eventually decided that little could be made of them. In Le Bret on Lèse Majesty, Ralph Giesey, Lanny Haldy and James Millhorn describe the Church research notes, as described to them by Mrs. Martha Mitchell, the then University archivist at Brown University. As we shall explore later, Giesey, Haldy and Millhorn wished to know whether or not Church had studied the very interesting additions and omissions in Le Bret's De la Souveraineté du Roy, first published in 1632, and the "four levels of composition of the work" that appear by the time of the third printing (edition?) of 1642 by Le Bret himself. The study of Le Bret by Giesey and his students will be presented much more fully, as a preface to our thoughts about Church's approach to the study of lèse-majesté, notably by M. Sbriccoli (1971) and J. Chiffoleau (1993, 2006). References to these and other specialized works on the topic may be found in the bibliographies of Blanchard and Fernandez-La Côte.
But before turning to these last two works, in the manner of the fifteenth-century portrait with a window toward the outside, let us mention Florentine late-medieval political culture, that world that gave us the modern state, Bruni, Valla, Machiavelli, Savonarola and Guicciardini, in order to slow down any and all claims to uniqueness in the experience of ruthless, bloody politics. Nicolai Rubenstein's classic, The Government of Florence under the Medici (1434-1494) (New York: Oxford University Press, 1966), exposes what humans can do in order to gain power in a statist political culture that was decreasingly domestic. N.S. Baker, in "For Reasons of State: political executions, Republicanism and the Medici in Florence," Renaissance Quarterly 62 (2009): 444-78, counts the numbers of executions of men belonging to the wrong political party or clientele. There were 80 in the years just after the Pazzi Conspiracy, for "reasons of state" (p. 456). In the more republican era, exile of enemies prevailed; in the more Medici era, executions for reasons of state occurred very frequently, and without complicated legal proceedings. Reason of state was a sufficient accusation or charge. In the light of this fact, and the presence of prominent Florentines all through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries at the highest level of government, the semantic field of the phrase raison d'État cannot be restricted to its strictly French range of meanings.
Joël Blanchard's Commynes et les procès politiques de Louis XI is a very thoughtful and highly analytical study of how Commynes navigated the allegiances and parties in the last years of the great nobility's struggle with Louis XI. Blanchard is not a legal historian, and so much the better for it, because his findings and reflections derive from the mémoires of his hero and the "memoranda" (which the French likewise call mémoires!), that is, the documents surviving from lèse-majesté trials that were in effect prosecuted by Louis XI. The latter may not have been in the chamber with his hand-picked commissaires, but the dessein or "plan" of the prosecutions' (that is Richelieu's seventeenth-century term) was drafted and revised in the royal presence. Blanchard concentrates on two famous trials: that of Louis de Luxembourg, seigneur de Saint Paul, the ex-connétable, and that of the Duc de Nemours.
Blanchard has assumptions about how legal cultures mature and, in the process, diminish the role or "place" of individuals in the development of procedures in courts of law. He understands fifteenth-century French legal culture as developing toward this de-personalization, but that it still had a long way to go. Similarly, he sees the law of lèse-majesté as being, as yet, barely distinct from the general legal culture. He suggests that only when combined with ideas of sovereignty in the sixteenth century, will it become the institut that we know in the seventeenth century.
Blanchard is very interested in the character of the mémoires
that emerge from state trials. They are not quite juridical texts; nor
are they mémoires of the sort written by Commynes, though there
would seem to be passages in Commynes that strongly resemble these
mémoires. The boundary between the juridical and the un-juridical
would change post-Louis XI, perhaps as the law became more professional.
Hélène Fernandez-La Côte's Les Procès du Cardinal de Richelieu
is also interested in the character of the mémoires generated
about the state trials of the 1630s. Alfred Soman thought of them as a
genre, and the point may be well taken; but where does it lead?
Blanchard's characterization of ordinary, as compared with extraordinary procedures, might well yield interesting insights about the general evolution of procedure over the centuries; but I am not going to pursue this direction.
One point, however, merits attention: the status of justice by
commission. Louis XI, in very hands-on ways, kept the same handpicked
commission for two major treason trials. He was also very much in
contestation with the Parlement, to the point that he considered
dismissing all the judges or exiling them in some way! Royal letters of
indictment were revised again and again, probably with Louis XI's
supervision. And the king wanted speedy action. There was apparently
little objection to the commissions, because no parlementaire "ideology"
had yet developed.
The laws of lèse-majesté have, for Blanchard, two quite distinct parts. The first consisted of quite specific crimes such as minting coins that lacked the stated quantity of precious metal; the second consisted of something that resembled the Roman law of treason, something that was more intimate and personal, such as oath-breaking, breach of confidence, betrayal.
The "law" of September 22, 1477, ordered or established by Louis XI, made anyone with knowledge of a conspiracy just as guilty as the actual conspirator. It met the needs for prosecuting individuals who were "go betweens," that is, who were negotiating between rebellious princes of the blood regarding such actions against the crown as they could agree upon. Blanchard's use of quotation marks around the word loy leaves the reader open to infer what Blanchard considers to be the limits of royal power in the late fifteenth century. This is all very insightful for suggesting continuities with the fates of such seventeenth-century persons as Fontrailles, Saint-Ibar, and Montrésor, who traveled back and forth between the Duc of Soissons, the Épernons, and Gaston d'Orléans. And Chalais? Cinq-Mars? De Thou?
The procedure varied according to the rank of the person or persons
charged. Blanchard sums up: "Avec Commynes, Nemours, Saint Pol, nous
sommes plutôt encore dans une rhétorique d'indignation, voire de la peur
royale, qui justifie le recours à la lèse-majesté" (p. 61).
There is a delicacy in Blanchard's silence about the actual executions of those convicted of lèse-majesté in the reign of Louis XI. Blanchard's approach here is to work out key aspects of Commynes's life. The work suggests how the biographer must go to great lengths in his research, in order to comprehend his subject. Commynes kept litigating his entire life, and beyond; Blanchard finds this difficult to understand, and rightly so — unless one spends a few decades with a much more recent representative of the French aristocracy, Comte d'Adhémar de Panat! With a cutting gesture of his right hand, anent some challenge over a piece of property barely bigger than a postage stamp, he would say, "Je lui ferai un de ces procès ..."
What follows now is a running commentary on a book that, were I to review it formally, would devastate the writer. I wish to avoid that, because the result would be to discourage further research. I have learned from the book. There is learning and energy, a telos about the increase of state power; but the themes are put together in a confused way that requires much repetition. If I seem oblique, read the book!
Hélène Fernandez-La Côte begins her study of Les Procès du Cardinal de Richelieu with a jargon-peppered review of the sources. She notes the numerous copies of the mémoires drafted about the major state trials during the reign of Louis XIII, found in the collected papers of Godefroy, Dupuy, Loménie de Brienne, Achille de Harlay, Conrart, Séguier, and others (Dubuisson-Aubenai on Cinq-Mars might have been added). Thanks to her participation in the Groupe de recherches interdisciplinaires sur l'histoire de la littérature (known as the GRIHL), there is a welcome sensitivity about why, and in what contexts, these sources were produced, and for what purpose. As with Blanchard, the mémoires pose particular questions that derive fundamentally from the nearly absent institutional support for preserving and classifying archives. Royal officials, or would-be sometime royal officials, thus assembled their own archives. And cas royaux by commission seemed to have generated records that were not always, if rarely ever, integrated into the registers of the Conseil du Roi, the Chambre des Comptes, or the Parlement. The question of the fate of the sources from commissions merits a detailed answer.
A complementary reason would develop over the seventeenth century and become very strong in the eighteenth, namely the collections of pièces curieuses. As Baluze and Clairambault worked to collect originals for the royal library, or have copies made, collectors strove to add to their own collections documents about major political events, and documents about private life, major examples being Gaignières, and then Joly de Fleury, Châtre de Cangé, and Morel de Thoisy. Godefroy included in his collection Strafford's last speech in his own defense! Morel de Thoisy was not alone in digging out cases of nobles prosecuted for lèse-majesté, but his list is revealing of the search for precedents. He found 5 cases in the fourteenth century, 7 in the fifteenth, 10 in the sixteenth, and in the seventeenth century 15 up to 1652. He lists them (BN, Coll. Morel de Thoisy, 115, fol. 205).
The collections at the royal library that grew out of the de Thou library, and thanks to Nicolas Rigault's efforts they would expand rapidly under the Dupuy brothers. Collecting documents for the royal library not only had, but would increasingly have practical utility for "applied" research on such matters as treaty preparation and, above all, negotiations with the Papacy. Perhaps recent scholars, notably Jérôme Delatour, have found direct correspondence links between Pierre Dupuy and Richelieu over the former's great research and publication project on Gallican liberties; I once tried to find such links and failed. Certainly Dupuy would have attempted to answer, with specific historical facts, any question the Cardinal might have asked him, but he would have done the same thing for Loménie de Brienne or any other high-ranking official. We know he did that with Séguier. The Dupuys and the Godefroys were charged with answering questions posed by ministers. They considered themselves to be royal officials. Their offices as librarians and historiographer gave them dignity and authority.
When a high-ranking official lost his post (I prefer not to use the term "disgraced," except for those who held household appointments), his papers were often seized under quite brutal — in the middle of the night — circumstances. Just where did these papers go? Only some épaves of Marillac's and Châteaneuf's papers seem to have ended up in the royal library, and at a later date. Recent work by Françoise Hildesheimer clarifies what parts of the Séguier archives are in the Fonds Doubrovsky in Russia. Over the decades, whenever something seems to be missing from the Séguier papers, my immediate reaction, as a former Mousnier student, has been to wonder if it is in Russia! What is missing from Séguier's papers at the BN concerning the great treason trials of the 1630s remains puzzling.
Fernandez-La Côte recognizes the monumental work of Martial Avenel in his edition of Richelieu's correspondence, and she is right about the weaknesses of Pierre Grillon's edition; but she does not point out the errors she found, which would have been useful.
Record-keeping and pamphlet-writing is rightly placed under the theme fama, that is, the account of an individual's ignominy or gloire in history. I very much like this approach, because it goes to the heart not only of action but also of a lot of writings. At once primordial and always present, it nonetheless is stronger and more of a concern or passion in some periods than in others. I am not sure how this theme squares with the assertion that the lateness of the Mercure François's publication makes it less interesting as a source (p. 53). The deaths of so many of the principals might actually have given "editors" greater latitude regarding controversial events that occurred earlier.
While it is very tempting to put Paul Hay du Châtelet's propagandistic texts together with those of Mathieu de Morgues, and to give them the same critical valence, de Morgue does not contain the same high level of information that Hay du Châtelet does, be it in favor of Richelieu's policies or against them.
The chapter on executions for treason grows right out of the critique of the sources. As a result, we could not be further from the older approaches to the history of law. But having decided that lèse-majesté divine was in decline, Fernandez-La Côte may have not have explored some of the elements in the different narratives of executions, searching for their full religious-mythical interpretations. Her reaching back to the Biron trial does not surprise, but the absence of any reference to the Concini trial does. Indeed, she confirms that on the level of legal titles and procedure in the great treason trials, 1626-1642, little if any of the diabolical or supernatural appears (astrology is a different matter!). In this way she confirms Robert Mandrou's thesis (which she does not cite) about the decline of witchcraft trials owing to the education of legal professionals. This became manifest in the rules of evidence. Fernandez-La Côte writes about ritual without putting aside her rationalist perspective. As a result, the executions are narrated with little comparative analysis of the sources. Using the same sources, Denis Crouzet and Natalie Zemon Davis could each write a remarkable book and really deepen our understanding of legal culture in the 1630s.
The extravagant who stopped Saint-Preuil on the way to the scaffold may have been only aberrant in his belief in his own powers to save the victim; others waited for divine intervention in the form of lightning or a broken ax-handle before they rushed up to release the condemned. We are still horrified by the blundering during the Chalais execution. Like the Florentines who, while Savonarola was among them, would execute for nothing more than reasons of state, the French commissaires delimited their categories about accusation and persecution. Bodin did not write about demons in his Six Books on the Republic; he reserved them for an entire book on the subject. We know that the de Thou library included Bodin's books on demons, because their copy survives in the Gordon Collection of the University of Virginia Library, beautifully bound with the characteristic de Thou arms in gold leaf. Why would a jurist have such a book in his library?
In the major treason trials under Richelieu, divine grace did not intervene to save the victim. Did this fact contribute to the secularization of politics in the Ancien Régime? It is Augustus's support from "le ciel" that fosters his maturation into the princeps, the consecration being the pardon in Pierre Corneille's Cinna. The "grands Dieux" so frequently evoked are, of course, pagan; but when Maxime says to Émilie, "Mais apprenez le soin que le ciel a de vous," (i, IV, 5), the emotional valence blurs the historical, to the point that listeners perceived this as evoking a Christian cosmos. Like the judicial mémoires, the relations of executions await their historian. Fernandez-La Côte notes the prodiges (an impetuous wind, p. 98) as Saint-Preuil went to his death, but she does not distract her reader by noting divine expression through nature.
But Fernandez-La Côte is also interested in the diffusion of information about trials and executions, in order to address the question (Christian Jouhaud) of whether or not there was a "public" in the 1630s. Fernandez-La Côte does not give an emphatic answer to this question, but she goes on to note the large amount of information about high politics that went out to someone who was being informed, the back and forth of writings about Richelieu and his policies, and the formal objections to trial by commission that were carefully stated by a president of the Parlement. She quotes well and frequently from Arnauld d'Andilly's letters to Barillon.
Fernandez-La Côte explores the terms "ordinary justice" and "extraordinary justice" and concludes that trials by royal commission were ordinary. Blanchard notes that the procedure was extraordinary if the accused was a prisoner and was being questioned without having been informed of the charges against him (Blanchard, p. 30). I shall not explore all the similarities and differences in how these two scholars understand procedures; but I will infer that, across the centuries, the commissioners continued to have a great deal of flexibility, based on general accord within a particular commission. And most important, the procedure varied according to the accused's rank.
Fernandez-La Côte links the workings of procedures to precedents and the search for them. This places history at the heart of jurisprudence. Blanchard suggests that the late-medieval jurists had a difficult time, or were reluctant to construct the laws of the cas royaux — an interesting suggestion. The status or force of Roman law, notably the lex Julia and the law of exemplarity about procedure (Fernandez-La Côte, p. 92) may well have been greater in the late sixteenth century, as a result of Humanist legal scholarship and its teaching at Bourges by Cujas and others. The world of precedentalism would remain very complex and contradictory; and it remained subject to the usual influential contexts — particularly the office and authority of the person who cited a precedent and his ability to influence action. Fumaroli has worked out the significance of the Attic approaches to interpreting texts literally, and its decline. See his L'Éloquence et "res litteraria"... (Geneva and Paris: Droz, 1980), and the paperback editions.
The public nature of most, but not all, executions for lèse-majesté (the duc de Montmorency's execution was an exception) subjected not only the guilty but also the bourreau, the guards, and yes the king, — all of them parties to the trial — to an extreme test. Would a royal pardon arrive at the last minute? Would God intervene by lightning or a broken sword or rope? Why did onlookers unfailingly scrape up the blood or tear some bloody slivers from the planks?
And very importantly, the guilty had to die convincingly as Christians. As with her decision not to give the history of lése-majesté, Fernandez-La Côte gives us quite a sanitized, secularized and elite account of state executions, and this fact bears on her characterization of the "public." The result is a series of narratives of the sort a parlementaire might make; and he, of course, firmly believed that he and his ilk were the public! In many respects he would have been profoundly and historically correct.
Fernandez-La Côte's explorations of how specific royal intendants acted when confronted with possible indictments for treason, support Blanchard's view of the limitations, coherence, and professionalism in state criminal law. Paul Hay du Châtelet in effect negotiated with the duc de Bellegarde. Again, as in the Biron trial, admission of guilt remained key to the terms of a possible pardon or grâce. Fernandez-La Côte might have reflected a bit more on this "structure" of admission-of-guilt and pardon that was at the center of the actual trials and of less formal negotiations. She is rightly attentive to the clouds of suspicion about how his previous crimes hung over the accused.
Intendant d'Argenson, whom we know from other contexts, was given the mission to inquire and, if necessary, prosecute in conjunction with local judges in the western provinces, the "go-betweens" (Blanchard's term), the negotiators between the conspiring princes — for example, Fontrailles, whom he found guilty, and Montrésor, whom he found innocent. We shall see below that Cinq-Mars was more than a "go-between." Fernandez refers to him as playing a rôle moteur.
Intendant Machault, in the Velay, had the problem of finding out just who supported Gaston and Montmorency in their rebellion, and of prosecuting them. A Grands-Jours procedure was used by justices who went deep into the Velay and other remote regions, and the results varied considerably from what d'Argenson carried out. For Machault, rebellion, criminality, and heresy tended to be bundled together; as a result, a considerable number of executions were conducted, some in effigy and some not. Seigneurial chateaux, and other chateaux as well, were torn down here and there (this was a recommendation that goes back at least as far as the Estates General of 1614); but lèse-majesté turned out not to be the most frequently prosecuted crime.
On the very important topic of confiscation des biens, see Jean du Tillet's "Mémoire envoyé au Roi pour le jugement des Rebelles," ed. by E. Brown in Jean du Tillet and the French Wars of Religion; Five Tracts, 1562-1569 (Binghampton, Medieval and Renaissance Texts, 1994), passim. Here we see du Tillet carrying out the role that would be played by the Dupuys and the Godefroys in the 1630s: as suppliers of precise information to the crown. As councilor to Charles V, were some of Oresme's researches and writings all that different? Séguier included a transcription of Du Tillet's text on the subject (BN, ms. 17318, fol. 71), so he did not consider it to be in decline as a title under which one could be prosecuted.
At various points in the book, Fernandez-La Côte brings up maître des requêtes and intendant Isaac Laffemas, mentions Georges Mongrédien's book on him, and then rather assumes that the reader is informed about Laffemas. His roles in judicial matters in Champagne are also noted, as is his prosecution of the chevalier de Jars; but we are not given an account of just how the charges of peculation in the trial of maréchal de Marillac appear in the sequence of changes in the commissions [sic] that tried him. The case is well-known, albeit in a brief way, as a brutal and violent miscarriage of justice. We learn that Richelieu liked to appear distant from the proceedings, but that he followed them and probably intervened. We know that Laffemas wrote longer reports than some other intendants. Was it his idea to bring the charge of peculation? Or was it Richelieu's? If it is impossible to elucidate the roles, then that too might have been mentioned.
Although earlier in the book she took a strong position on the procedural legality of commissions, Fernandez-La Côte explores the issue more generally after reviewing just how broad and varied the powers of intendants de justice might be. In a quotation from Bellièvre that argues that exemplary justice would be all the stronger if ordinary courts were the only ones used, we see how an argument fails to become a precedent. Rightly so, the institutio of a commission gave it considerable powers and autonomy. Their members had the task of grounding their own legitimacy, which usually meant carrying out the king's will. As noted above, Louis wrote Richelieu about the Maréchal's alleged "insolent letters" concerning the Cardinal (p. 39). Had not slandering a royal minister sufficed to make a commission find Marillac guilty? Hay du Châtelet wondered whether the king, not the Cardinal, would be satisfied with less than the death penalty (p. 275). It was also Louis who overruled Richelieu's arrêt pardoning Vendôme. (p. 295).
Fernandez-La Côte notes that Richelieu asked for the names of the two commissioners who did not vote with the majority that condemned Cinq-Mars (p.221). If I recall correctly, the Cardinal wrote the king about the judgment and asserted that it was unanimous! He knew better, and he seems to have been caught in an outright lie. I shall let others verify this incident. Perhaps I am confusing the Cinq-Mars and the de Thou judgments; but then again, my recollection may be accurate.
There is a brief exploration of the workings of the Chambre de l'Arsenal, and presentations of astrology, Madame du Fargis, and the duc de Roannez. Owing to his writings on religion and his distribution of pamphlets against Richelieu, Mathieu de Morgues would be found guilty of lèse-majesté divine et humaine! The summary of Laffemas's duties, and those of the Conseil de Guerre, confirms the emanationist and personal nature of monarchical justice. Had the anachronistic concept we call "le pouvoir" not been at work in Fernandez-La Côte's analysis, we might have learned more about the king's personal role in some of the cases. But she is content to confirm the "proto-public" view that it was always Richelieu who, through Laffemas and others, drove these "extraordinary" courts toward what Mousnier aptly referred to as "le pouvoir totalitaire d'un gouvernement de guerre" (Institutions, I, p. 514). At other points, she notes that it is often the king's person, in itself, that is involved in charges of lèse majesté; but then she carries on, obfuscating about le pouvoir while implying that Richelieu was totally in charge.
A particularly revealing series of cas royaux regarding treason on the part of commanders such as Belleforière de Soyecourt (who surrendered Corbie) resulted from the anxiety over defeat as manifested in the Conseil de Guerre, and from the literal interpretation of a Roman law on cowardice. La Valette's fate after Fontarabie would scarcely be different, as he too headed for England. The late Elizabeth Marvick found the contradictions in the command structure — really, a quarrel between Condé and Épernon — to be the reason for the defeat. When Richelieu wrote about La Valette, he was writing as a prosecutor. Fernandez-La Côte wonders whether La Valette had participated in the 1636 plot to kill Richelieu. We know from Montrésor that he, Montrésor, had tried to convince Épernon to join Gaston and Soissons in the conspiracy, but that the old governor of Bordeaux merely mentioned Chalais's fate! Ah, this is exemplarity at work, as Richelieu hoped it would work! Still, perhaps La Valette conspired at a later date.
The book might have ended at this point. Fernandez-La Côte's characterization of lèse-majesté and its extension in and through a legal culture that was grounded on Roman law and French precedents, embodied royal powers partly through condemning often very elite subjects for treason. Her concern for the semantic fields of such words as procès, politique, and public suggests that she is pursuing a distinct type of justice from a distinct view on politics. While this aim certainly is lofty, there is something anachronistic about the pursuit itself. The recent legal problems of Messieurs de Villepin and Pasqua come to mind! The use of the legal system for political ends may involve respect for some civil rights — for example, the right to counsel and the right to be released after a specific number of hours if no charges are brought — but the potential remains for destroying one's political enemies by posing public questions about their conduct, and then having them charged and tried. At least the penalties are lighter.
I confess to approaching the final part of the book with some trepidation. By that point, we have been through the major trials over and over again. The declared aim is to "comprendre quelle place occupe le procès d'État dans une logique politique plus vaste" (pp. 307ff). As I read this, I thought the principal theme would be to analyze the relations between the highest aristocracy and their households, along the lines of Arlette Jouanna's Devoir de révolte, but more precisely, an analysis of the role that physical violence played in the dialogue between the state and the grands. What were the cultural foundations that released the norms of the society, veritable taboos against murder, and in particular the murder of a cleric? Overcoming the resort to physical violence unleashed during the Wars of Religion would be one of Richelieu's aims. And not only on moral and religious grounds. Peace, repos, in the interior, le dedans, was a prerequisite to war on the international stage. In the Assembly of Notables of 1626, Richelieu listed thirteen articles under the heading lèse-majesté. Marillac would include them almost verbatim in the Code Michaud of 1629.
One can argue about whether there was a public in France under Louis XIII, but no one can challenge a conscious effort on the Ministry's part to inform the political elites about the repression of duelling and about specific crimes of treason. "Le roi a besoin de faire les exemples," the Cardinal would say about the royal officials who joined rebellions in Normandy in 1639. A program of pacification started, in a sense, by making criminal behavior known through accounts of judgments, executions, and such extraordinary measures as cutting down the tall trees on Belleforière de Soyecourt's estates near Roye, and strewing salt in the furrows of his fields. What, in fact, were the precedents in France for applying Roman law to someone deemed to be a coward?
On Maximilien-Antoine marquis de Belleforière de Soyecourt, see A.
Huguet, "Le Marquis de Soyecourt," Bulletin de la Société
de'Emulation d'Abbeville (1940): 1-64. Moréri (1743 edition) does
not mention his defeat at Corbie in 1636. On his trial, see "Extrait des
registres du Conseil de Guerre," Oct. 25, 1636, signed by Sublet de
Noyers, BN, Coll. Cinq Cents Colbert, 220, fol. 341.
Where does one begin, if one wishes to study the political consequences of Richelieu's using the legal system for political purposes? Probably with the chambre de justice established on his recommendation, that ended up pronouncing a death sentence for La Vieuville, the principal minister whom the Cardinal was seeking to destroy, in complicity with Marie de Médicis. La Vieuville had ordered the arrest of d'Ornano, Gaston's governor, because d'Ornano had pressed for the prince's admission to the Council of State — something that neither Louis nor La Vieuville wanted, because they thought that the prince would merely be a point person for Marie and the householders around the prince. Upon coming to power, Richelieu had d'Ornano released; and at Gaston's request he supported making d'Ornano a maréchal de France.
In February 1626, a new edict against dueling was promulgated. It actually lessened the punishment for some aspects of the practice; but it made others harsher, and it placed strong emphasis on enforcement.
Working through d'Ornano in the spring of 1626, Gaston again asked to be appointed to the Council of State. D'Ornano was arrested on May 4, 1626; he would die in the Bastille, presumably (purportedly) of "natural causes." Richelieu had perceived Arnauld d'Andilly's disgrace from the prince's household as d'Ornano's doing, a signal that d'Ornano wished to be the sole influential person around the heir apparent. The Montmorency-Bouteville duel, with seconds, took place in June of that same year, a true test of whether royal legislation would be enforced. It was. D'Ornano had been protected by Marie de Médicis.
The duc d'Elbeuf, on Marie's urging, encouraged Gaston to be more attentive to Mademoiselle de Montpensier, with whom the Queen Mother was arranging Gaston's marriage. The king opposed the betrothal. Richelieu did not yet dare separate himself from Marie's protection. The marriage proposal became a subject of court gossip, and high-ranking nobles began to take sides for and against it. Marie was determined, indeed she was unwilling to give it up in deference to the wishes of her older son and sovereign. The negotiators for the "English match (Henriette-Marie and Charles I) had probably pushed the issue of royal marriages to the forefront.
The second arrest of d'Ornano had changed the atmosphere in Gaston's household. The party of aversion to the marriage, and of animosity over d'Ornano, might eventually have quieted down; but the Vendômes and their hungry householders were not far off. Chalais belonged to the young nobles who were ready to duel over the slightest point of honor. I seem to recall that he had already killed someone when talk began about a plan to kill Richelieu at his residence at Fleury-en-Bière (which he had purchased with money given to him by Marie). A "go-between," and little if anything more than that, Chalais did not realize that he should have stayed on one side - what was now the side of Richelieu and Louis XIII! Fernandez-La Côte has frequently, and brilliantly, elucidated the fates of individuals who thought they could talk their way out of difficult situations. That is where the judicial may easily be distinguished from the social, courtly banter or slander. The Vendômes knew how to avoid self-incrimination. Where did they learn this? Who were their tutors and governors? I do not recall ever reading their names. Was it his bastard royal blood, or his ability to incriminate others, that led the Grand Prieur to merely to prison for a few years, rather than to the executioner's block?
Returning now to Fernandez-La Côte, I shall no doubt discover how much I have forgotten. Oh, I did read somewhere, years ago, that Montmorency resigned his office as admiral because he had information about the Chalais conspiracy. He did not inform the king, thereby committing treason. I have read that the Duc supported Richelieu in the Grand Orage. But that clash between mother and son seems so elusive that a duke playing such a role surprises.
La Vieuville's fate, and that of his rich relatives, calls to mind the terrible precedent set when de Beaune de Samblançay, the argentier of Francis I (he never was surintendant des finances), was tried for treason, sentenced to death, and executed. There were other famous cas royaux under Francis I that can be compared with La Vieuville's, but none quite like Samblançay's. Marillac's alleged peculation was small potatoes compared with these trials of financiers, the precedents for the Fouquet trial. From Jacques Coeur to Nicolas Fouquet. Fernandez-La Côte begins her final reflection — on the Chalais conspiracy — by emphasizing how divided the government was. Marie had brought considerable pressure to bear, in order to have Richelieu appointed to the Council. As soon as he was appointed, he of course began pushing others out, or coerced them into silence. This ruffled anti-Marie survivors from the days of Luynes's ministry. Hervé Drévillon, in Croiser le fer (Paris: Champs Vallon, 2002), has discerned affinities among the duellers, the "parti de l'aversion" to the marriage, and some Vendôme householders.
The May 1626 arrests of d'Ornano and several of his "clients" was designed to break the parti de l'aversion. It therefore seems that Richelieu was carrying out Marie's wishes. The material on Chaudebonne would seem to have been assembled with a view to charging him with slander; but for one reason or another, he was allowed to keep a low public profile. The "édit d'union" of May 31, 1626, was Richelieu's work; but it would fail, because Gaston came up with pretexts to break it. With all his authority as a cardinal, Richelieu would attempt, again and again, to keep the two brothers and their mother on terms of reasonable confidence. His greatest failure.
Fernandez-La Côte's account of the Vendôme arrests clarifies much that was previously mysterious: for example, the Grand Prieur was on Gaston's council. And the king seems not to have forgotten the duc de Vendôme's previous attempt to increase his powers in Brittany: Louis abrogated all official duties for the Vendômes in that province. This eventually opened the way for Richelieu to become governor of the province!
Chalais would seem to have been much more of a "go-between" than a "rôle moteur." He may have been ambitious, but he was soon out of his depth, to the point that Richelieu could infer that Chalais was betraying, not serving — a devastating consequence.
Fleeing to Metz would not have meant leaving the realm. Metz became more a part of the realm once a parlement was established there in 1633. But could an Épernon son give assurances that the venerable ex-mignon to Henry III and current governor of Metz would agree to Gaston's staying there? His support for Marie during an earlier round of fighting between the king and his mother had not turned out well!
Some of Fernandez-La Côte's final remarks about the Chalais trial have a proto-historical tone. How "necessary" was an "espace de publicité" for a major trial? Richelieu and Louis XIII both believed firmly in exemplary justice; but I suggest that the scheduling, the geography (e.g., would the king himself seek to be present), and the rank of the indicted, tended to combine with a sense of religious duty that justice must be done, and now. Indeed, historically, the procedures for lèse-majesté trials required very prompt executions. The timing had nothing to do with giving copy to Renaudot, who was, it seems, never low on copy. And as for Richelieu's seeming so frequently to stay in the background, he and the king were rarely together for more than a few hours at a time during the entire period 1624-1642. He therefore wielded his powers through letters and his creatures.
And to be sure, Louis had an older brother, Vendôme (p. 337); but he had been raised always to keep his bastard brother far below himself, by being discourteous to all the bastards; and it was never a question of Vendôme's occupying a place in the succession to the crown. The Condés, father and son, saw to that! But was the talk of assassination just that? Talk. Evidently Omer Talon did not believe that the law of lèse-majesté applied to royal officials such as the Cardinal. What was in Tiberius's mind as he had his powerful minister-favorite, Sejanus, murdered? The parallel with Louis XIII and Concini did not go unexplored by pamphlet writers, because the king very probably followed the posthumous trial of his mother's favorite. But talk was actionable for a king who claimed not to be familiar with the technical aspects of "his" law. And we shall learn that, from Richelieu's perspective, a gentilhomme would prefer to be in l'autre monde than to be humiliated and dishonored.
Fernandez-La Côte explores the difference between the understandings about prisoners of war and prisoners who held commands in the royal army and had rebelled. The duc d'Elbeuf, who was in Gaston's household, wrote the duc de La Force, commander of the army, to make the case for considering the vicomte de l'Estrange a prisoner of war rather than a rebellious officer. It did not work, and it would seem that Intendant Machault, on orders in the king's name, proceeded toward a rapid condemnation and execution. It is beside the point to quote Michel Foucault anent using executions to consolidate sovereignty. Louis the Just, with divinely-granted and sustained authority, did not need executions to increase his power! And the special status of l'Estrange as a rebellious officer in the royal army, is not unlike a royal army officer's instant execution for theft. Fernandez-La Côte includes among her quotations the words "repos de l'État," as the great justification for exemplary justice. I don't think that the l'Estrange arrêt was precedent-setting, but the specific language, even the style, may have led Dupuy to keep a copy. Did he do the same for those whom Séguier ordered hanged after the Nu-pied Revolt? What is paradoxical is that some types of royal officers, for example judges, could avoid being executed, while rebellious army officers might not.
I simply do not agree that the royal letter condemning Montmorency is "violent et brutal" (p. 353). Every phrase follows what the Duc could have written himself. And unlike Augustus, who pardoned his friend Cinna so that his authority would be legitimated by this act of clemency, Louis XIII placed the "repos de nos sujets" above clemency. If Kantorowicz's theory of the king's two bodies had perhaps been considered on the point of whether justice can be granted to one's enemy, more emphasis might have been placed on the vote in the Parlement of Toulouse - the king's institutional body. After all, when Biron was brought before the Parlement of Paris to be charged, none of the peers showed up. And the grâce that Montmorency received was a non-public execution. This was a major grâce as Louis XIII defined grâces. Montmorency would be buried only briefly at Saint-Sernin. Later his heart was transferred to the Jesuit professed house in Toulouse, and his body to the chapel of the Visitation at Moulins, where his wife eventually became a nun. Yes, it is correct to mention (p. 334) that Henri II de Condé's accommodation with Richelieu consolidated the latter's power; but Louis XIII would not forget the prince's early rebellion and prison stay. And we have to recall that the condemned duc de Montmorency's sister, Charlotte, was the princesse de Condé, having married Condé and having given birth to the future Grand Condé; and that she also was the last woman to pull on Henri IV's heartstrings. Did Condé plead for his brother-in-law before Louis XIII? Probably not.
Turning to the Cinq-Mars/de Thou trials, Fernandez-La Côte gleaned some important and ancillary material from going through the séries France, that is, Richelieu's papers at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Grotius's correspondence is also of very high interest. There is also reference to Jean-Marie Constant's emphasis on friendship as a key social and political relation; but little is done with this after it is mentioned.
On the religious-institutional side of the "storm," see Urban VIII's brief authorizing a commission headed by the archbishop of Arles, et al., to "inform" on the "prelates and other ecclesiastics" who had conspired against the person and the state of the king of France (Dupuy), BN, ms. n.a. fr. 2398, fol. 59, Oct. 8, 1632.
Cinq-Mars was not just a go-between, he was a "rôle moteur," especially in working out, or trying to work out, the timing for combining French rebel troops with Spanish ones, and for assassinating the Cardinal. Cinq-Mars most definitely believed that he had the abilities to carry out Richelieu's duties, and especially to make peace with Spain. This aim may be one of the principal motivating forces in the anti-Richelieu plots, at least since the beginning of declared war in 1635. Montrésor is very eloquent on this point: see my study of the vocabulary regarding the plot to assassinate Richelieu in 1636.
Louis XIII's affections ranged from intense love for Cinq-Mars to the need to be persecuted by him. His complaints to Richelieu about Cinq-Mars must be set against Chavigny's and Sublet de Noyers's obvious pressure to have the king disgrace him. The great nobles, including the king, had as part of their grandeur a belief that they could "manage" any of their householders. Gaston d'Orléans would show similar patterns: he would want to disgrace Montrésor but then would want him back; but he was too proud to say so directly, which left the negotiations to Mazarin.
Yes, Richelieu held before the king a lofty idea of his role, and he did all he could to help Louis fulfill that role. It was tiring, trying, and condescending to be the king that Richelieu wanted him to be, but Louis soldiered on.
Didn't Bouillon have the rank of prince étranger? Trying him would have posed difficult legal questions. On page 379, I should have liked a more detailed presentation of the interrogation proceedings. Blanchard evokes the future professionalized and rational legal proceedings. In Fernandez-La Côte we find "constraint" used about rules of evidence, almost in a negative sense. I find such rules to be desirable, and I think that that more carefully articulated rules to frame cases and to establish procedures for both prosecutors and judges, were "modernizing," and that the Inquisition developed some proto-modern features about the rules of evidence. If there were indeed more rationally grounded rules of evidence by the 1630s, then the professionalization of justice had advanced. The unstructured non-system was still there in the 1770s. On "lèse-majesté verbale," see Dale K. Van Kley, The Damiens Affair (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), pp. 255-65. For the later general picture, see R.M. Andrews, Law, Magistracy in Old Regime Paris, 1735-1789 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994). Robert Mandrou's work on witchcraft demonstrated that the very lack of evidence that witches did in fact exist, finally (except in Massachussets!) led to a decline in the phenomenon.
Marillac had argued that being charged with peculation was beneath his dignity; and Gaston argued that it was beneath his own dignity to testify as anyone else might do. He successfully made his case, but Marillac did not. Awareness of rank was so strong that, in confrontations, it rarely came up so explicitly in the testimony, but it did in modes of greeting. His dignity may have made it highly unlikely that Gaston would testify against some of his own fidèles; but in fact he did just that, although in the end his testimony was excluded. Montrésor accused Gaston, through La Rivière, of not lifting a finger for de Thou; but Cinq-Mars's testimony was so incriminating that perhaps all the effort was placed on saving others.
I have not read Delatour or some of the other recent works cited by Fernandez-La Côte, so the most interesting new material that she cites about the Cinq-Mars/de Thou trial is Dupuy's arguments in defense of his late colleague. First, the ordonnance of Louis XI promulgated in 1477 and registered by the Parlement in 1479 had not been included in various collections of royal legislation; and its Roman-law antecedent had been promulgated by a tyrannous emperor influenced by a tyrannical minister! Dupuy was grasping at straws. Interesting straws! He certainly knew how high an ordonnance was in the hierarchy of royal instruments. Had it really been registered by the Parlement? He also knew that the various collections of royal laws published during the interval had no legal standing or accepted status, as would a code or a body of general royal legislation. He also knew that despite an increased professionalization of the parlementaires, these august senators could turn precedents on their heads and declare null and void anything but the so-called lois fondamentales. And he was aware that the commissaires had not read all of Louis XI's ordonnance! By the time Dupuy redacted his text, the Cardinal was in his grave, and Louis XIII probably was also in his. A solemn Parlement had firmly accepted the king's will regarding the Regency, and then it promptly turned that same legal instrument into a royal act that was null and void. The fact that Dupuy took his time, and that the London lodging houses were emptying as Frenchmen returned to France, must be stressed in order to understand not only Dupuy's defense of de Thou but also his probably later writing of the posthumously published Histoire des Favoris.
He also sought to challenge accepted understandings of the Latin term conscius. De Thou had admitted under pressure that he knew about the treaty with Spain; but what did it mean to "know"? Dupuy had the records of the trial before him, and he sensed a breach here that a prosecutor might have erased with another admission or two, to emphasize having "certain knowledge." Fernandez-La Côte and Delatour have opened a Pandora's box of new questions about cases that have already inspired much research and reflection. I, for one, would like to know about earlier efforts to set royal legislation aside, in the way Dupuy did, and whether there were some cases in which his arguments succeeded as defenses.
The authoritative narrative for what was going on in 1643 and beyond is by J. Delatour, "Jacques-Auguste II de Thou, ou l'impossible héritage," in Cahiers V.L. Saulnier, 24 (Paris: Presses de l'Université Paris-Sorbonne, 2007): 175-209.
Reading Fernandez-La Côte's book has been a very stimulating experience for me. My hope is that others will read these lines and turn to the book itself. Here is a learned and engaging work, in the genre of political history. The use of the phrase "le pouvoir" — and indeed the general concept — has impeded a still more fundamental, and indeed biographical analysis of intentions and actions. In The Republic Bodin remarks that kings may hide their actions behind the actions of their ministers, who receive the criticism for those actions. But then, did Richelieu have the king almost "programmed"? Writing to Chavigny, he insisted that the letters must also be shown to the chancellor and, to be sure, the surintendant: "Il n'y a rien qui puisse préjudicier au dessein qu'on a" (p. 378). Should we be taken in by the "on"? Was it Richelieu who created the "dessein" and saw to its execution? It is such a wonderful word, it is so Richelieu!
Ralph Giesey and I exchanged theses at some point in the early 1960s. He sent me his Royal Funeral Ceremony with this comment: "... a bit Cro-magnon for a Richelieu specialist." In 1986 he co-authored "Cardin Le Bret and Lese Majesty," with Lanny Haldy and James Millhorn, two of the remarkable members of the Giesey Seminar at the University of Iowa, published in Law and History Review, 4 (1986): 23-54. It is dedicated to William F. Church.
The article is a close reading of Cardin Le Bret's De la Souveraineté du Roy. First published in 1632, it is the first major systematic treatment of the subject since Bodin's Six Livres de la République. Having noted how the turmoil of the Wars of Religion had influenced Bodin's thought, Giesey makes the important point that Le Bret, born in 1558, had lived through those same disorders. Le Bret became a royal official in 1594, thus he was very much a senior subject by the 1630s. While his thought was mature, it was not unchanging: indeed, there were actually four levels of composition between the royal privilege of 1630 and the third printing in 1642. The events of the 1630s were "shaping his ideas" toward the recognition of the need for ever greater precision about lèse-majesté, especially as it regarded les officers royaux. Readers, turn to your memory files and recall only that maréchal de Marillac (and earlier, La Vieuville) were charged with peculation. Chalais, Montmorency, L'Estrange, Cinq-Mars, and de Thou were charged with treason!
Le Bret presents the law of treason under three headings: a) speaking ill of the prince's acts; b) making an attempt on his life; and c) making plots and conspiracies against his estate. (I have kept Giesey's terms.) Le Bret places slander (calomnie) before attempted assassination, because it is the "avant-coureur de la rébellion et de l'attentat contre la vie du Prince." There are many interesting possibilities for exploring in depth the relations that Le Bret sees between language and other actions. He mentions various examples of Roman emperors who declined to prosecute for slander; and on attempted assassination he notes numerous abuses by emperors and French kings, including Louis XI and his "excessive cruelty." Giesey does not comment on how all this material might have been read by the commissaires who were judging cases of presumed lèse-majesté during the 1630s -- something certainly interesting to do.
Le Bret's third category, conspiracy, is grounded on the lex quisquis and the terms used in the Ordonnance of Blois of 1579: giving criminal intelligence to foreigners, leaving the realm without royal permission, and raising troops without a royal commission to do so. Another clause involves attempts on the lives of magistrates and officials. We recall that Omer Talon (Fernandez-La Côte, p. 294) did not consider this last clause to be part of the law. In Le Bret's first edition, the chapter on lèse-majesté, as quoted by Giesey, ends with this sentence: "One most often sees that those who would make war on their king and conspire against his state make the first daring attempt against officials and magistrates, who we can say are the living image of the Majesté of the Prince."
In the marks-of-sovereignty chapter of the République, Bodin includes injury to a "magistrate in the exercise of his office"; but this is not frequently mentioned by other jurists. Le Bret did not follow simple rules of precedent to propose what we might call "case law." References to works by previous jurists are rare. Instead, he deliberately develops his views by grounding them on ancient, chiefly Roman sources and principles. Giesey notes that by the last edition in his life time, 1642, half the pages in the chapter on lèse-majesté are about contemporary events. In these pages there is an echo of the Code Michaud regarding royal officials who leave the realm without permission. Giesey suggests that the elaboration of Le Bret's views may well derive from Marie de Médicis's and Gaston's flights to the Spanish Netherlands. It would be worthwhile sometime to try to find the reasons why exiles — especially Gaston's erstwhile householders — chose England rather than Brussels.
In 1639 Le Bret served as a commissaire on the La Valette trial, which included Louis XIII's famous tongue-lashing of Le Jay, first president of the Parlement. From his own duties on the Conseil d'État, Le Bret inferred that the law of lèse-majesté needed to be strengthened against royal officers who were found guilty of crimes by défaits et contumances. In 1633 a royal declaration had provided a five-year grace period to lodge an appeal. Giesey notes that this declaration had permitted the return of several prominent nobles who had fled the realm with Gaston, but this grace period had not been extended to Jacques Le Coigneux, who was a president in the Parlement of Paris thanks to pressure by Gaston himself.
Giesey found that, as Le Bret moved to a more explicit language against royal officials, he deleted the entire law of lèse-majesté from the more general and traditional category of cas royaux. He also revised his views on royal officials, whom he had earlier considered to be "living images of the Prince." He now asserted that their status or quality was different from that of the king: they had no rayon de majesté. Here were modifications made in the heat of a series of treason trials that are further elaborations of a constitution grounded on absolute sovereignty. The pitched battles of the Wars of Religion were over, and the remnants of the League had been dispersed; but not a few royal officials declined to carry out the king's orders. Enforcement of the law came from the top down. Every individual prosecuted for treason studied by Fernandez-La Côte was a royal official. If Le Bret recommends that the rayon de majesté be removed from royal officials, did he also argue that anyone attacking a royal official, be it verbally or be it physically, was not to be prosecuted under the law of lèse-majesté? Fernandez-La Côte provides a far richer context for reading Le Bret than what was available to Giesey and his students.
In my article, "Lèse-Majesté divine: transgressing the boundaries of thought and action in mid-seventeenth-century France" (Proceedings, Western Society for French History, Laurence, Kansas, 1982: 68-81), I found several cases where very humble persons were condemned and executed for something they said, among them the famous Simon Morin. Fernandez-La Côte offers no discussion of the possibly incriminating speech or writing, for example in maréchal de Marillac's letters, as read and interpreted by Louis XIII (p. 39). On treasonous speech, see A. Soman, "Press, Pulpit, and Censorship in France before Richelieu," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 120, n. 6 (1976): 439-63.
In an article on courtesy and absolutism ("Courtesy, Absolutism, and the Rise of the French State, 1630-1660." Journal of Modern History, 52 (1980): 426-51), I suggested that there was a layer of obligatory marks of respect, and that this layer was politically coercive and reinforced rights based on the prerogatives of rank and office. These marks of respect would be virtually "legislated" in courtesy books, in novels, and in accounts of humiliation that circulated beyond the court. Le Bret offers examples of supreme punishment, and of pardons involving the first clause of the laws of lèse-majesté. This suggests how a jurist might read Roman history and apply it to his own day. And the boundary between divine majesty and majesty tout court would be no clearer during the reign of Louis XIII than it had been in the Roman world where not only the princeps but his entire family came to be characterized, legally, as divine. Fernandez-La Côte secularizes French history.
Fernandez-La Côte notes the existence of the Testament Politique but alludes neither to the arguments it contains about the quest for a repos de l'État nor to evidence about the lèse-majesté cases of the 1630s, Her research in the Cardinal's correspondence has served her very well. If she believes that the question of authorship is so grave that the Testament Politique cannot be read for facts, it might have been useful for her to say so.
I referred earlier, from memory, to a passage in the Testament Politique where the Cardinal asserts that a nobleman prefers death to loss of honor. Montrésor writes in a similar vein, and some of Corneille's heroes make similar assertions. Condemnation for treason and the ensuing execution (la tête tranchée) might superficially be thought of as both humiliation and death. The "rituals" for the execution of someone condemned for lèse-majesté divine included formal humiliation on one's knees, barely dressed and holding a two-pound candle. If a true confession and admission of guilt were followed by absolution from a priest, the humiliation served to square away the individual's relation with God. Temporal punishment had been completed. Execution by drawing and quartering followed by burning, implied that the body, not merely the soul, had to be punished if the condemned was to envisage salvation. For lèse-majesté, a confession and absolution in public sufficed.
Let us turn to the Testament Politique to see whether the Cardinal has more thoughts on nobility and treason. The pagination is that of the Hildesheimer edition.
The famous three-point program occurs at the very beginning of the Succinct Narration; the "orgueil des grands" (p. 43) is the second point. Richelieu promises to reduce that pride.
Those who "avaient la conduite de Monsieur votre frère l'y embarquerent autant que son âge l'en rendoit capable" (p. 47). What an obscure, delphic phrase! Gaston was old enough to be admitted to the Council of State, says Richelieu, but neither he nor Louis wanted him there. Gaston was seventeen, and at this point he and his household were still very much under the influence of Marie de Médicis. For at least two years, 1622-1624, Louis had resisted her pressure to admit Richelieu to the Council. Richelieu remained very beholden to Marie, yet he probably did not want Gaston on the Council any more than Louis XIII did. It is possible to suggest that d'Ornano lacked the power to say no to Marie. One of the interrogations points out that d'Ornano's only resources were what his office brought in. In other words, he may have been really quite dependent on Marie after Luynes's death. And Arnauld d'Andilly left Gaston's household: did he have stronger ties to Louis and Richelieu?
The next passage is about how emotionally upsetting it was for Richelieu to have Chalais go to his death (p.49). Punishment for dueling and the utility of the State are the Cardinal's reasons for going against "le sens de tout le monde et contre mes sentiments particuliers [pour] afirmer V.M. ... (p. 49). He notes the defeat of the southern Huguenots and Rohan's flight to Venice; but he does not mention Rohan by name. Similarly, there is an allusion to Buckingham, but he is not named. Alluding without naming is a form of denigration, a reverse exemplarity. But Richelieu does mention Rohan's treaty with Philip IV.
Richelieu says that the relief of Casale was carried out against the advice of the duc de Montmorency and the maréchal de Marillac (p. 57). He describes the "plot" mounted by Marie, Gaston, Bellegarde, and Marillac as a "faction" (p. 59). The king sends away Marillac "de son propre mouvement." Bellegarde was Gaston's surintendant de la maison, in addition to being the grand écuyer and governor of Burgundy.
Having noted that Bellegarde has been deprived of his governorship,
as was Elbeuf, the Cardinal describes the duc of Guise's "retirement" to
Italy as a "retraite criminelle" (p. 64), presumably because he had not
been authorized to leave the realm. Guise loses Provence and the
admiralty of the Mediterranean. What "proud" grands remain? Montmorency,
of course (p. 64), and Épernon.
As for Maréchal de Marillac, his fate seems to have been linked to stopping various unlisted plots. "La constitution présente de l'Estat requéroit un grand exemple" (p. 65), comments Richelieu.
The civil war launched by Gaston and supported by Lorraine and Montmorency is briefly recounted (pp. 66-67). The latter's punishment was necessary, in order to avoid still more "dangerous rebellions."
The "bienfaits" given to Puylaurens did not help him keep on the path to bonne conduite. The Cardinal mentions the numerous other cases where individuals had received unusual gifts such as offices or promotions but had not remained grateful and obedient. We can just hear the clicking of Richelieu's mind as he goes over the (Senecan) formula about benefits and gratitude, to suggest that obedience and political stability are not advanced by it.
Richelieu uses the word "lâcheté" to describe the three governors who hold northern fortified places (p. 77); lâcheté is a term from Roman law. The rest of the Succinct Narration deals chiefly with the "open" war with the Hapsburgs and the conflicts with Gaston.
Concerning Fontarabie, Richelieu alludes to "le mauvais sort des armes, la lâcheté ou la malice de quelques uns qui commandoient les vostres ..." (p. 80), an interesting equivocation after so many categorical judgments. The Testament Politique does not include the Cinq-Mars/ de Thou conspiracy.
The overarching theme of the Testament Politique is Louis's prudence, patience and generosity, and his willingness to forgive his brother — but not his advisors. There is no conclusion about how the pride of the grands has been diminished, at least not up to this point.
Part II of the Testament discusses ways to reform the Church. Very little concern is demonstrated here for enhancing the faith of the faithful. Richelieu writes as a bishop and a cardinal, that is, about administrative and legal issues, especially relations with the Papacy and with those who claim to have the right to name curates and distribute prebends and so forth. He does not raise broader issues. Yet he does, for example, make a critique of customary law in the Church's jurisdictional matters; and he comments thusly on justice and the Church:
Or, parce que la justice veut qu'on prenne une exacte connoissance d'une faute auparavant que de penser à son chastiment et que les roys ne sçauroient pas eux-mesmes rendre la justice à tous leurs sujets, V.M. satisfera à son obligation si elle commande à son Conseil privé de recevoir les plaintes des contraventions que ses officiers, de quelque qualité qu'ils puissent estre, forment à un tel règlement et de réprimer sévèrement leurs entreprises, auquel cas l'Eglise estant contente d'un tel ordre, se rendra plus soigneuse de rendre la justice qu'elle la recevra de son prince (p. 107).
Though the context here is the jurisdiction of the Conseil privé, note that any and all royal officials — "de quelque qualité qu'ils puissent estre" — can appeal to the Conseil privé for justice, or may be brought before it. Would the same rule apply to the Conseil d'État? And are the parlements for nonreligious matters? We have already learned that Louis de Marillac's and Montmorency's appeals grounded on noble rank were rejected by the commissaires. Gaston appealed, thereby saving himself.
Richelieu's reflections in the Testament Politique on the nobility shed light on what could be considered his theory of the psychology that the French elites share about physical violence, notably in dueling:
Comme les gentilshommes méritent d'estre bien traitez lorsqu'ils font bien, il faut leur estre sévères s'ils manquent à ce à quoy leur naissance les oblige, et je ne fais aucune difficulté de dire que, dégénérans de la vertu de leurs ayeuls, ceux qui manqueront de servir la couronne de leurs espées et de leurs vies avec la constance et la fermeté que les loix de l'Estat requièrent, mériteroient d'estre privés des avantages de leur naissance et réduits à porter une partie du faix du peuple.
L'honneur leur devant estre plus cher que la vie, il vaudroit beaucoup mieux les châtier par la privation de l'un que de l'autre.
Oster la vie à des personnes qui l'exposent tous les jours par une pure imagination d'honeur est beaucoup moins que leur oster l'honeur et leur laisser la vie qui leur est, en cet estat, un suplice perpétuel. (p. 150)
The tidal wave, 1610-1630, of publications about honor, dueling and,
implicitly, humiliation, leads Richelieu to take at their word those
members of the second estate who were struck by this craze: death is
preferable to humiliation. His binary logic seems superficial to us, but
he evidently saw no acceptable middle ground. His own brother had
provoked the duel in which he was fatally wounded.
Having concluded that nobles preferred honor more than life, the Cardinal deduces that the loss of office, property and liberty might lead to greater respect for the royal legislation against dueling than did capital punishment. The new royal ordonnances contained both!
Les François méprisent tellement leur vie que l'expérience nous a fait connoitre que les plus rigoureuses peines n'ont pas toujours esté les meilleures pour arrêter leur frénésie.
Ils ont souvent estimé qu'il y avoit d'autant plus de gloire à violer les édits qu'ils faisoient voir par une telle extravagance que l'honeur leur estoit en bien plus grande recommendatioin que leur vie, estant plus capables d'appréhender de perdre les commoditez sans lesquelles ils ne peuvent vivre heureux en ce monde, que de mourir hors la grâce de Dieu, sans laquelle ils seront malheureux dans l'autre (p. 154).
If the Cardinal recalled that this was Machiavelli's view — execute, or just plain kill, rather than confiscate property — he did not mention him. Actually, this was a sphere where royal grâces could be exercised. When the Condés benefitted from Montmorency's death, it was doubly humiliating for the Montmorencies; but as noted above, the marriage alliance between these families mitigated the enormous consequences.
Turning only briefly to W.F. Church's notes, it is interesting to see
that, in the Instruction du Chrétien of 1621, Richelieu
discussed how failure to reveal accomplices to a crime against the crown
constitutes lèse-majesté. Commenting on the eighth commandment,
the Cardinal wrote:
Celuy qui scachant un crime, ne le recule pas quand il est deuëment requis par la justice, transgresse ce à quoy il est obligé par ce précepte, s'il n'est parent ou conseil de l'accusé, auquel cas il n'est pas tenu de reculer la vérité qu'il scait, si ce n'est en crime de lèse-majesté." (p. 199)
(Church cited an edition from 1844. Hildesheimer gives 1618 as the first date of publication.) Under the heading "justice," the recent edition of the Traité de la Perfection contains twenty-three references. A not-so-little book might be written on Richelieu and justice, and doing this would be easier than discussing Louis XIII on the same subject!
Richelieu's understanding of the task of reforming French society, in order to eliminate violence and disorder, is grounded on the principle that fear is stronger than love when it comes to changing ways, and that exemplarity punishments foster second thoughts about committing an illegal or an immoral action. The higher the rank, the less should criminal activity be tolerated. Every great noble was a royal official in one way or another. The word "crime" came quickly to the Cardinal's mind. As his theological reflections melded into his political thought and action, feelings of frustration, failure, and the need to act were prompted by disorder and violence, be it verbal or physical. He rarely referred to the historical-mythical and utopian realm of the high middle ages that was free of betrayal and physical violence. (See my "Richelieu and the Great Nobility," French Historical Studies, 3 (163): 186; and my "Richelieu et la 'querelle de la mère de le fils'" in Franco-Italia (21-22), 2002: 57-65.) Still, he did have some idea of turning the realm toward a more perfect future, one with less disorder grounded on a myth about the past. After much reading, reflection, and writing, the Cardinal developed a dessein for action and did not hesitate to attempt its realization. Some men of power philosophize but their subsequent actions are not in accordance with their philosophies. This was not the case with Cardinal Richelieu.
Before turning to William Farr Church's notes, we need to: 1) evoke the historiographic atmosphere in which his work occupies a major place; 2) mention the overall trajectory of his research; and 3) present what he writes about lèse-majesté in his published work.
One of the main philosophical-political outlooks that held enormous sway at Harvard when Church was a research student, can best be summarized in one word: constitutionalism. The formulation and articulation of this concept is far too big a subject to be explored here; but very briefly, it functioned (functions) as a heuristic device for evaluating change in the way powers were distributed in any body politic. Polybius, more than Aristotle, must be considered as the early formulator of the study of the dynamics of power. We have already encountered an example of its application in the discovery by R. Giesey et al. that Le Bret developed a special category for lèse-majesté, outside the cas royaux. Giesey, in my opinion, rightly interpreted this more as a strengthening of the king's absolute personal power, at the expense of the other royal body (Kantorovicz), that is, the state as an ensemble of delegated institutional powers.
Church dedicated his thesis to Professor Charles Howard McIlwain, a formidable Harvard presence who wrote and lectured on constitutionalism. (McIlwain wrote a book objecting to F. Roosevelt's attempt to add members to the Supreme Court, on the grounds that this would undermine the balance of powers set forth in the American constitution.) Earlier McIlwain had edited and written about the political writings of James I. As a doctoral thesis topic, he suggested that Church study "constitutional thought in sixteenth-century France." Church duly worked it up and it was published in 1941. (I realize that French scholars who are particularly sensitive to the Jacobin historical moment object to the use of "constitutionalism" for anything prior to the writing and execution of a constitution in the late eighteenth century.)
In American political culture, the haunting Machiavellian remark about republics being unstable — like the slow shifts from institutionalized royal power and the rights of subjects, to royal personal power — remained a point of departure for American historical scholarship about France. This purview certainly reached far beyond Harvard. One of the greatest explorers of this outlook, along with Church, was J. Russell Major, trained at Princeton (Harbison, Strayer). From this perspective, change within monarchy always seemed to be for the worst, moving toward tyranny. But ah, those clever kings and ministers always seemed to be creating new powers and offices that would be obeyed for a generation or so, and that then would go on their way to join the institutional side of the monarchy! Church's work rests primarily on the writings of jurists. He was always attentive to the influences that pamphleteers, theologians, and poets exerted over the overall climates of thought through which power was articulated. The late-sixteenth century was a crucible for political thought, owing to the religious, political and military conflicts that wracked the realm.
William Farr Church was born in Monmouth, Illinois, on December 13, 1912. I seem to recall that his family was from New England. After graduating from Allegheny College in 1934, he went on to Harvard, where he earned the Ph.D. in 1939. The preface to his thesis is dated October 1940; it appeared in the Harvard Historical Studies published in 1941 when he was only twenty-eight or twenty-nine. (The first publication was by W.E.B. Du Bois, and the one that immediately follows Church is J.H. Hexter's The Reign of King Pym.)
Church does not use the word "history" to describe his project. He is seeking "the essential identity of the theoretical element" (p. 12); and he mentions, approvingly, an essay by Ernest Barker, about the differences between political theory and political thought. He is interested in why some concepts (sovereignty, for example), become stronger while others (custom, for example) weaken. In a note he expresses disagreement with Pierre Mesnard regarding similarities in the way of thinking between Bodin and Machiavelli (p. 13). Church asserts that, in the Republic, Bodin's "pattern of thought" is that of a jurist.
But neither treason nor "lèse-majesté" appear in the Index of this
book; so we will put it aside and turn to Church's second book,
Richelieu and Reason of State (Princeton U.P., 1972). I could look
up what I wrote about it (anonymously) for that Press; but what is
important to note is that lèse-majesté and the state trials of the 1630s
have a large place in this book. He begins a short preface by quoting
McIlwain: "The end-product of divine-right sovereignty was reason of
state." Very different from his thesis, Richelieu and Reason of State
explores the ethical valences of the idea of reason of state, as it was
or was not articulated by the Cardinal in his policies throughout the
minority. Testing the Meinecke thesis could only be done by discerning
Richelieu's moral underpinnings. Church generally finds Richelieu to
have acted within a moral frame of choices.
The lengthy entries in the index for "lèse-majesty" should not surprise us. They read as if, on that subject, the next book was already in his mind. The items in that particular entry are:
Lèse majesté, the charge, definitions; used against Huguenots; used against followers of Gaston d'Orléans and Marie de Médicis; used against Richelieu's personal enemies; used against writers who criticized Richelieu
Though cast in a prose of caution and tentativeness, Church's second book raises just about every issue raised by Fernandez-La Côte and by Giesey and his students; and having narrated all the major state trials, he offers strong conclusions about them. He integrates the debates that went on about these events, notably the debate between de Morgues and Hay du Châtelet. On pages 319-22, he notes Le Bret's changes and additions to his text, to make it ever more authoritarian, but not despotic as that concept was understood in the seventeenth century. Giesey's observation about lèse-majesté having been removed from the cas royaux did not strike Church; but the fact is that Church did not include Le Bret's cautious remarks regarding slander trials, and the cases in Roman history where it was pardoned.
Fernandez-La Côte cites Church's Richelieu and Reason of State in her bibliography, but at no point does she draw on it or object to Church's findings. This would not be the first recent instance where a young scholar cites a major work but never mentions it again.
Unlike Fernandez-La Côte. Church puts his discussion of trials into the political narrative and debates of Richelieu's ministry. For example, in the Assembly of Notables of 1626-1627, Richelieu and Marillac presented to the great and lesser nobles (who actually approved of these laws) the principal clauses that were conceptually coming to be the law of lèse-majesté. Montmorency was not a member of the Assembly, but Louis de Marillac was.
The terms approved by the Assembly of Notables became were integrated into in the so-called Code Michaud, which was promulgated by the lit de justice of January 15, 1629, and contested by the Parlement! It is most easily available to us in Isambert's Recueil des Anciennes Loix, vol. XVI. The best and most detailed study I know of the lit and of Marillac's quarrel with the Parlement over it is J.R. Major's Representative Government (New Haven, 1980), like Church's a remarkable study that is by no means made out-of-date by Fernandez-La Côte.
Obviously, the unified reform policies that Richelieu and Marillac attempted to carry out, in order to reduce the resort to physical violence and rebellion, were not accepted by all; but it is evident that the elites of the realm were very familiar with the principal tenets of those policies. Dare we say that they were public knowledge?
Thus — without going back to older ordonnances such as those of Moulins and Blois, and to older trials — the recent Chalais trial and execution, the discussion-deliberation in the Assembly of Notables and, finally, the lit de justice of 1629 made elites familiar with specific events and terms. But was lèse-majesté, as a phrase, a charge, or a concept, known to people unfamiliar with the history of law, or only to people who were familiar with the law? Church does not really address this question in Richelieu and Reason of State. Without going deeply into what a concept might have been, I think Church would have pursued the study of lèse-majesté in order to elucidate the circumstances in which it became a term, not unlike lois fondamentales, loi Salique, and inalienability of the royal domain. In the Code Michaud, the term is not employed as a heading; it only appears in the final clause (clause 179) of the ensemble of clauses that already constituted a list of crimes in the proposals placed before the Assembly of Notables. At this point it seems fair to suggest that Church envisaged his future project on lèse-majesté as the history of how it became a concept in law, in state trials, and in public discourse, during the reign of Louis XIII. In this context, Giesey's finding that Le Bret had made lèse-majesté a separate title, is very important evidence of its growing strength as a concept.
I visited Bill Church about ten days before he died. We did not discuss his research, but in an oblique phrase Church whispered that he felt completely satisfied by what he had accomplished in scholarship. That he had not completed his work on lèse-majesté did not seem to bother him, although I am sure that he knew about and approved the decision to deposit his notes in the Brown University Library.
Church was upset at the possibility of litigation against Brown by a colleague (not a historian) who had been denied tenure. he had learned that the department making the decision had only vague procedures, and virtually no documentation! Church loved Brown, and he was terribly upset at the possibility that it would be embarrassed in the courts. It was not winning or losing the case that troubled him; it was the absence of sound procedures and documentary evidence about how such an important decision had been made.
Nancy Roelker and Donald Kelley looked over Church's notes at some point, and they decided that little could be done with them. One of the most detailed outlines - it is in Church's own hand - is titled: "The French Jurists and lèse-majesté, 1450-1789." At the top of the page, Roelker wrote: "W.C.'s early plan." There is another page marked "outline", again in Church's hand and bearing the title "Richelieu and lèse-majesté." After an Introduction and a chapter on the "Medieval Background" that ends with the "great cases" of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, there would be a third section on the sixteenth century.
Actually, there are two outlines in his hand titled "Richelieu and lèse-majesté." One has the sub-heading "Ideas," and the other has "Focus of the book." Let us ignore the more general outline and center our attention on the outlines with "Richelieu" in the title. For Church, the medieval experience was undoubtedly very important, but I suspect that with Richelieu and Reason of State having turned out so successfully, he might in the end have centered his attention on the reign of Louis XIII.
The outline subtitled "Ideas" included "Introduction," "Precedents," "Roman law in the middle ages, "the Humanist revival (Cujas)" and then "Jurists and Roman law, esp. the Godefroys (Denis, Theodore, Jacques)." Section Two is entitled "Growth of concept of lèse-majesté," with Chapter 1 being the fusion of Roman and feudal ideas; the sixteenth century (ordonnances, Blois, Villiers-Cottrets, Chancellor Poyet). Section Three begins with Richelieu, in parentheses, followed by "Efforts to regularize and strengthen concept," followed by "Marillac (Code Michaud)"; "Jurists - Dupuy, Godefroy"; and "Mss in Mazarine, Institut."
Part Three is titled "Use of charge of lèse-majesté as instrument of control." There follow three sections on the "great cases" - middle ages, sixteenth century, and Age of Richelieu. The outline ends with the phrase "maximum effective use, for control (series of cases)."
In the outline subtitled "Focus of the book," the first point is "evolution of concept and application of lèse-majesté as an important instrument of control." Under this point comes: "evolution of the concept from feudal (personal) ties to required blanket loyalties." The second statement under the second point is "expansion of coverage, from cas royaux to Richelieu's absolutism"; and the third is "the evolution of procedure."
Tempting as it is to comment on Church's outlines, it would be inappropriate. Two remarks, however, may be made about the published work and the outlines. Church's historiography centers on a synthesis that does not privilege ideas (e.g. Roman law) over social, political, and religious issues. Their occurrence together is only pulled apart in order better to understand how each aspect interacts with the others. Church did see the jurists as proposing instruments that individuals endowed with hereditary power or royal office could use, to enhance their own authority. In "The Decline of the French Jurists as Political Theorists, 1660-1789 (French Historical Studies, 5 (1967): 1-40), Church argues that after Domat, the French jurists turned away from questions about public law, to questions about private law, thereby leaving the state bereft of the intellectual foundations that accounted for its development. The philosophes filled the void, and the Revolution followed. We shall also note that individuals also belong to the thought and the social, religious, and political conditions. Institutions, as beings, shaped the actions of individuals who, in turn, modified institutions. Foot-noting this approach would take us far afield, but it may be said that — along with McIlwain's works — the works of F.W. Maitland, Otto von Gierke, and Ernest Barker come to mind.
The next point is more personal. As we find Church working out a variety of outlines, we must ask: To which specific context does Richelieu and Reason of State belong? In the writing, books take on lives of their own; and to review completely the ethics of Reason of State, Church had to, and did, take up the major state trials: Chalais, Marillac, Montmorency, La Valette, Cinq-Mars, and de Thou. Le Bret's name does not appear in any of the outlines, perhaps because his thought is presented in considerable detail in Richelieu and Reason of State, which begins with a lengthy analysis of the origins and diffusion of the idea of Reason of State. The book that was never written, but for which Church left extensive notes, might (as indicated) have begun with a succinct presentation of juridical thought from Roman law on lèse-majesté. Such a chapter, followed by one on procedures and cases prior to 1600, might have concluded that the "instruments for extending control" were readily available in the Biron trial. We might ask whether these instruments had really evolved all that much since the state trials of Louis XI's reign. Blanchard insists that long-range consequences of legal professionalism and jurisprudence would eventually change the legal culture of Commyne's world; but as we see Louis XI himself offering advice on the texts that were to lead to capital punishments, we can almost see not only Louis XIII but also Richelieu doing the same thing, and with the same contempt for the Parlement, the "careful selection" of commissaires, and so forth. A continuity!
Fernandez-La Côte is off the mark when she asserts (p. 92) that "libéral"
and "miséricordieux" were the principal elements in the royal image,
before it became "juste" under Louis XIII. See M. Tyvaert's "L'Image du
Roi," Revue d'Histoire moderne et contemporaine, 21 (1974):
521-47, where justice, courage, piety, and love of literature are the
principal royal virtues, and in that order.
Precedents were as important as Roman law, as Giesey and his students found. Le Bret cited examples (here I use the word in its most technical and juridical sense) from Roman history and evaluated decisions of Roman emperors, sometimes with approval and sometimes without approval. The Godefroys and the Dupuys were certainly not the first to assemble citations on French cases of lèse-majesté (Church, p. 321), but their research skills would have permitted them to find surviving documents in the records of the Conseil d'État, the Parlement, or some other instance. We have already noted how, in so many instances, the documents from the great state trials have not survived. I quote Church:
In fact, Le Bret's treatment of lèse majesté was a landmark in the history of the concept since it was by far the most important analysis of the subject to be published by a jurist while Richelieu was attempting to articulate the doctrine of crimes against the state (p. 273).
Le Bret's views evolved under the heat of treason trials, but it is interesting to note that he seems not to have included the crime of lascheté. Fernandez-La Côte may well be right in suggesting that this charge against Soyecourt and others, after their humiliating defeat in 1636 on the frontier, was being developed to become a part of the law of lèse-majesté (p. 262). What we have, then, may be a dynamic relation between political conditions and the king and his minister, and between royal judges in commissions and a dynamic legal concept that is available to them. Every case became an example, and in the charges the law of lèse-majesté became more specific and included additional crimes! We have learned just how unstable the law of lèse-majesté was.
An Appendix: Épaves from Church's notes.
My aim here is not to present a complete picture but to suggest the range of materials that he used for the Richelieu decades.
There are photocopies of various histories of law, and comments on
them. Alard's Histoire de la Justice criminelle au seizième siècle
(Ghent, Leipzig and Paris, 1868), of which Church thought highly.
Fernandez-La Côte does not cite it. Ernest Perrot's Les Cas Royaux
(Paris, 1910) is photocopied, but without comment. There are notes from
Loyseau on cas royaux (Seigneuries, XIV), considered to be
about the "means and methods used by royal justices ... to encroach on
seigneurial justice." There are veritable indexes of several volumes of
the Mercure François. There are volume numbers from the
Godefroy collection at the Institut and the Dupuy and Baluze papers at
the B.N., with brief statements about their contents. Manuscript 122 of
Godefroy (Institut) is characterized as "contains bits of everything —
cases, extracts, arrêts, bits of histories, even items on
ecclesiastics. Might be considered for bits on cases but generally
Dicée's Lettre escrite aux Juges (1632) is a pamphlet condemning judicial procedures in the trial of Louis de Marillac — the "work of bad counsellors"; its call number is BN LB 36 2865. There are lengthy notes on Hay du Châtelet's writings, which included documents. There are notes on Mathieu de Morgues's pamphlets and on d'Ossat's letters. There are notes from Isambert's Recueil ... Many if not all of the sources that I found in Church's notes are cited in the bibliography of Richelieu and Reason of State. He did not seem to think that a new method or a new approach would have to be worked out for the study of lèse-majesté. His approach in Richelieu and Reason of State included all the sources he could find in Paris, and he had mastered what works on the history of law, and history tout court, had to offer.
I am not sure that there is any one model for research at work in the GRIHL. In her Chapter 1, "Procès politiques: constitution d'un objet d'histoire," Fernandez-La Côte concentrates on a critical approach to the sources, without presenting the works on the topic.
The principal strength of the GRIHL is its emphasis on close reading. Text and context. What was the first context for interpreting the charges that together were known as lèse-majesté? The writings of the jurists and the cases, of course, as well as the principal ordonnances and the Code Michaud. Did Louis XIII have slander in mind when he wrote to Richelieu and told him that he was ordering Louis de Marillac's arrest?
One of the GRIHL's topics for investigation is the study of power and its uses. A title may take on a power of its own, especially if it includes Richelieu's name. The reader comes to it with explicit expectations: the writer is either seeking to deepen understanding or else is offering a personal perspective on the subject. In both cases, the reader expects to find control of the major proposed approaches already in print, for example, classics such as Hanotaux-La Force and Meinecke. These works are, of course, out of date; but the newer works by Bergin, Mousnier, or Hildesheimer do not exclude the possibility that the older works interpret a document or add a perspective from another discipline or another moment in time, that literally nourishes and informs the current writer of history. Fernandez-La Côte has not always respected the careful attention to all contexts that is a principal strength in the works emanating from the GRIHL.
By way of a conclusion, I shall select some of Church's notes that are revealing of his interest in personalities, mainly Louis XIII and Richelieu, and the responsibility of each for the arrests, trials, and executions for lèse-majesté.
From Avenel, Lettres, VII, p. 162, Church transcribed a text on the "insecure tenure of ministers," and the role that favorites play in their disgrace when the prince is "facile." Avenel speculates that Richelieu wrote this for his (history) mémoires. There perhaps is studied ambiguity here, since it probably would not have occurred to readers that Louis XIII could be "facile."
Again, from Avenel, VIII, pp. 24-28, 71-75, 120-24, 125, and 155-62, Church is struck that the arrests in the Cinq-Mars conspiracy were made of the grounds of "suspicion." He questions whether the royal statement disseminated publicly across the realm was issued prior to the end of the trials! Church notes that the Cardinal requested "confidentially" to Séguier the names of the two judges who had refused to find de Thou guilty.
Church also transcribed a single-page mémoire in Denis Charpentier's hand (B.N., Baluze, ms. 147, fol. 21) on how a "particulier," possibly a councilor, was advising the king to take an illegal course of action, and how it is the king's duty to prosecute the particulier. Since the king alone is above the law, it will be God who punishes the king if he did in fact act illegally, on the basis of the particulier's (councilor's) advice!
Finally, Church transcribed Louis XIII's autograph letter of August 4, 1642. There is a variant dated August 3, 1642. This version was published in Beauchamp, and it comes from the collection at Chantilly (number 587). The version transcribed by Church is in B.N., ms. fr. 18431, fol. 400. The letter edited by Beauchamp bears the royal signature, Louis; the example transcribed by Church concludes with a fermesse, after which Church wrote, in brackets: "[Louis?]." See Claude Dulong's work on these signs of love, confidence, and intimacy, "Les Signes cryptiques dans la correspondance d'Anne d'Autriche avec Mazarin, Bibliothèque de l'Ecole des Chartes, 140 (1982): 61-83.
On June 30, 1642, the king had written to Richelieu, granting him authority in the South, as if the king himself were present. If Louis had already given Richelieu virtual vice-regal powers, why are there two royal handwritten letters penned only a month later, to encourage the Cardinal to do everything "qui se pourra faire en conscience, et de résoudre tout ce que vous verrez être du bien de mon service"? Note the emphasis on conscience. Louis had scrupules. (See F. Hildesheimer on this point.)
There are a lot of repetitions and exhortations in Louis XIII's letters. Lucas, his secretary à la main, could exactly imitate the king's handwriting. Is one letter a copy of the other? And why does only one letter bear a fermesse? Did Louis finally express some affection for his minister? Over the previous months there had been assurances about his eagerness to see Richelieu, and the king always was concerned about the Cardinal's health. Fernandez-La Côte consulted B.N. ms. fr. 18431, but she very probably was not interested in elucidating the different responsibilities in le pouvoir. The king might have had one copy sent to one destination, and the other to another destination, since Richelieu could well have left for Lyon.
After the transcription, and the question about whether or not Louis had written that fermesse, Church concludes: "Note: Richelieu is to do everything that can be done 'en conscience et de resoudre tout ce que vous verrez être du bien de mon service.'" And he added: "the basic dilemma." Readers wishing to go further on these questions should consult A. Lloyd Moote, Louis XIII the Just (Berkeley, 1989), and Françoise Hildesheimer, Richelieu (Paris, 2004). The context that Church develops for interpreting state trials in the reign of Louis XIII is a synthesis of ethical-religious thought, the law, institutions, and the personalities actually involved. There is still much to be learned about the relation between state-building and justice in seventeenth-century France. Church's model for research must be updated, but it promises to yield more meaningful results than any other model currently available.
William Farr Church died in 1977.