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Volume 1, redone Dec. 2014


Volume 1


Orest's Pages

Patricia's Musings



Musical Rhetoric

Transcribed Sources


Jacques Poujol, 1922-2012

The honor and duty are mine to try to present the richness and engagement in the historical thought of my late dear friend, Jacques Poujol. Others will write their memories of him and thus assure his place in the history of his country, France, his homeland, the Cévennes, and his faith as a Protestant. Jacques Poujol was a writer. His œuvre is eclectic, as it should be for someone who participated so actively in the life of his nation, and century. But before turning to his historical work, a word about how and where we met.

The University of Southern California, Los Angeles, Founder's Hall, in the autumn of 1960. Two professors (jackets and ties) were standing before an elevator, each saying "je vous en prie," about which one would enter first. We all entered and the doors closed; each Frenchman smiled at the other and looked rather sheepishly at me. I greeted them in French, which surprised them, and said that I was the very new assistant professor in Early Modern history. They introduced themselves, and we shook hands: one, I believe, was Professor Bédé, and the other was Jacques Poujol.

We met for lunch, Jacques and I, and we talked about our work, current politics and our families. As soon as he had copies, he dedicated to me a copy of the Seyssel, La Monarchie de France (Paris: Argences, 1961), with these words: "À mon distingué collègue historien Orest Ranum je fais hommage de cet essai de prehistoire de l'idéologie gaulliste."

A clue to his own outlook came as he recounted the shock that his father experienced on receiving his copy of the book. The spine said "La Monarchie en France," clearly an error of the typesetter at the famous Imprimerie Paillart in Abbeville! Republican and socialist, even Christian Protestant and socialist, the senior Poujol was shocked by what seem to be a royalist apologetic title.

Some journal asked me to review Jacques' edition of Seyssel, a water-soaked and slightly burned copy survived the Columbia 1968 experience. Here it is:

"La Monarchie de France et deux autres fragments politiques, by Claude de Seyssel, edited by Jacques Poujol. Librairie d'Argences, Paris, 1961. pp. 248. 20 NF.
This critical edition of the first important work in sixteenth century French political thought also contains a biography and fine introduction to the political views of Claude de Seyssel. As a contemporary of Machiavelli, More, and Erasmus, Seyssel too reflected a love for Greek and Roman letters and the humanist passion for the study of man through meditation of the classics. This urge was combined with much practical experience, for Seyssel, descendent of a great Savoyard family, had a long career as teacher of law, royal councilor to Louis XII, administrator of conquered Milan, diplomat, and bishop in France. Even during his political career Seyssel translated numerous works into French, notably Thucydides, so that the king of France might gain in wisdom. The Monarchie de France was written for the same purpose.
The Monarchie was therefore written as a handbook of information useful for the conduct of the French government. Seyssel described institutions, officers, and society such as they were instead of what they should be, making him more of a political scientist than philosopher. His thought was conservative for its time, and did not reflect absolutist and nationalist ideas in vogue. There was little recourse to moral or theological argument. As an example, he astutely based his reasons against conquest upon an analysis of the difficulties incurred in governing conquered territory.
Seyssel divided his work into five parts: monarchy in general and in France, internal affairs, military administration, diplomacy, and conquest. In his analysis of the prince, Seyssel concluded that there were three checks (freins) on royal power: religion, justice, and police. The moral code of Christianity upheld by a strong priestly hierarchy kept the prince from tyranny; the privileges and independence of the courts maintained justice; and the police, consisting of the fundamental laws of the realm, curbed royal power and kept it from being absolute. The prince was to rule without haste, and with the aid of councils, one of which should be secret to free him from aristocratic rivalries.
Seyssel's view of society differed from tradition. The first estate was the nobility, the second estate was the upper bourgeoisie, and the third represented the artisans and cultivators of the land. The clergy (traditionally the first estate) was common to all groups, and for Seyssel, was to provide the entrance to the upper classes, a social movement which he held desirable. He also recommended an independent church hierarchy based on election rather than royal or papal nomination.
The last parts of the Monarchie reflect the earl sixteenth century more directly. On military matters Seyssel disagreed with Machiavelli (whose works he did not know) on the importance of heavy fortifications and popular armies. Fo France, Seyssel advised the king to rely on great forts and on an aristocratically controlled militia. He considered a fleet essential in days when France had little maritime power. His pacifism was clear when he advised the king to seek peace, pessimistically noting that France had suffered more than she had gained from conquest.
The originality of Seyssel lies in his analytic method and practical thought, Seyssel saw the harmony necessary between government and society in secular terms, but unlike Machiavelli, he concluded that tried laws and Christian morals should provide the guiding spirit to the prince. This edition of the Monarchie de France, with its valuable chapters on his influence on later thinkers and good index will be welcomed by all students and scholars interested in the history of Western political thought."

Clearly, my little text did not convey the richness and importance of Seyssel's thought. I lacked the savoir and maturity to do it justice. Jacques' edition of Seyssel has had enormous influence on the history of political thought, has inspired books on Seyssel, and has fostered an image of the activist humanist who believed that knowledge of governance could foster peace among kingdoms and empires, and justice among subjects, high and low. Jacques also believed this; for the rest of his life, the Monarchie de France would remain just below the surface of his writings and thoughts. Seyssel's thought helped him understand his own world, the learned parallel framing of past and present of the true humanist.

That first year there as a grand celebration on New Year's Eve at the Poujols' house. Jocelyne's mother was there, preparing delicacies. The Andrew Losskys were there too, We arrived with a baby who was not quite two months old and needed to be nursed. The Poujols, young and old, took all this in stride. There as a minor crisis when it was discovered that there was no brandy to finish off the dessert. Jocelyne and I hopped into our little VW and drove to the closest liquor store, to procure what was deemed a necessity.

Jacques sparkled in conversation. Witty, urbane, ironic - the very antithesis of literal thinking. He loved to share his knowledge of the use of words and unstable meanings. Quite discreet about his own more formal training; I learned only years later about the doctoral thesis on Absolutist theory, a copy of which is now in the Bibliothèque du Protestantisme français, rue des Saints-Pères.

In the spring of 1961, Jacques was offered the position of conseiller culturel adjoint in New York. And I was offered an assistant professorship at Columbia University in the same city. It would not be long before the Ranums of Morningside Drive and the Poujols of West End Avenue were together again.

Jacques gave me offprints of his articles over the years, and in 2007 he assembled some of them into an elegant little volume that will serve as my focus for a discussion of his work. After presenting the articles, the autobiographical aspects of the Introduction will be brought out.

The great project of his research had a very fundamental question always in mind: how does the dynamic between ideas and constitutional ideas actually work? The first article is about Jean Ferrault, a lawyer about whom almost nothing is known, but who wrote a short path-breaking booklet that not only justified absolute power for French kings but also specified, in the insignia pecularia, just what those powers and privileges are. To be sure, there are some familiar ideas as well, such as the sun/moon analogy used to describe pontifical and royal powers. Thus absolute powers wielded by the pope and a king are not different and are not in conflict. The twenty insignia that Ferrault attributes to the king begin with the statement that no authority exists over the king in temporal matters, and that he has precedence over all other princes and institutions.

Ferrault's little work circulated as a pamphlet for several years, before being published in Gothic type in 1520. The storms over the Concordat that was finally accepted by the Parlement in 1518 involved intense debate over just what powers the monarch possessed. Ferrault's little book helped frame the debate and perhaps, by its argument about royal absolute power, helped Francis I to win. Ferrault's way of defining powers would be the language of politics at the highest level of government into the 1550s.

Jacques's second article (Colloque de Tours, 1977) presents all the major jurists and their writings, active at just the time when Francis I became king. Was Ferrault's thought part of a current of thinking on absolute royal power? After exploring Alciat's interpretations of Roman law and concluding that the habit of referring to a king as an emperor was simply not correct, and thus the emperor enjoyed superior and absolute power. Jacques turns to close readings of Budé's works and finds justifications for absolute royal power in Plato and in the works of some of Budé's contemporaries, notably Erasmus. In the meantime, Francis sought to be elected emperor!

Jacques did not hope to confront Humanist thought and political attitudes with Ferrault, but in Budé (and Alciat) the new learning is evident in all its vitality. Did Jacques find that Humanism would come down in favor of "mixed government," that is, would use learning and rhetoric to support a politics in which legitimate power existed in estates, parlements, customary law, and urban-bourgeois governance? Perhaps. He is dismayed to find Budé working out philosophical support for absolute royal powers. He is also disappointed to find that Erasmus's Christian-princely absolutism progressed in an incarnated philosopher king. Had Aristotle favored monarchy over other forms of government? Yes and no. That is, if a truly virtuous person wore the crown, then monarchy was to be preferred. But do truly virtuous men become kings? Better, says he, a distribution of powers in monarchy, aristocracy and democracy, all in one polis! Erasmus would elaborate the panegyric genre (Petrarch was a precedent) that constitutes heroic conceits of anointed princes, making them godly if not gods. Jacques would find Seyssel carrying out the same project in his panegyric to Louis XII. Alas, as Jacques reports: "... le royaume de France est emporté par une évolution irréversible vers un style autoritaire de l'exercice de pouvoir (p. 268).

The fourth part of the 2007 book consists of extracts from the 1961 Introduction and edition of Seyssel's Monarchie de France. I shall not deepen the exploration already presented, but I promise to return to Seyssel at the end of this essay, including and commenting upon a learnedly brilliant letter to a young scholar anent Seyssel.

In "L'Ambassadeur d'Angleterre et la Confession de foi du Synode de 1559," which appeared in the Bulletin de la Sociéte de l'Histoire du Protestantisme français in 1959, Jacques expands beyond the frame of Absolutism and its institutionalization, to take up the exact chronological order of the great events of 1559 in France. There was consolidation among Protestants resulting from the redaction (very difficult) of a confession of faith by the synod that met in 1559 and that would be presented to Henry II by the leading Huguenot great nobles. According to Throckmorton's ambassadorial reports to Elizabeth, the general atmosphere of extreme tension had developed, as Protestants in the West of France coalesced into a veritable movement. King Henry had mercilessly purged the Parlement of "heretics," and the (relative) unity of the Protestant great nobles and Calvinist pastors had been established. The continuity here, of course, is the use of absolutist authoritarian powers against high and low, in the name of ensuring "one king and one faith."

The article on the Fuite du comte d'Arran reminds those who knew and loved Jacques that he was a lover of literature before he was a historian. The Romanesque (avant la lettre) and the dead seriousness of the Protestant cause in France came together in reconstructing French-Scottish relations and the aristocratic plot that came to be known as the Conjuration of Amboise, 1559. Young James Hamilton, of high Scottish birth, found himself to be Comte de Châtelleraut as a result of the marriages that joined Stuarts and Valois - the Lorraine, the Bouillon, the Tudors. And of course, he was Protestant. Much of the catastrophic story of the Scottish match can be told through Hamilton's fate, and Jacques does it superbly. Hamilton's final crisis is described by Jacques: "Séquestré par son père, il s'évada de nuit, à demi-vêtu, pour venir confirmer personnellement ses déclarations à la reine, épouvantée de la part de vérité qui se mêlait aux hallucinations de ce cerveau en délice." Tragedy, illustrious rank and connections, and history are all in one, thanks to Jacques's pen.

The last article in this part of the book is brief, but very learnedly eloquent. Once read, it is easy to infer why the article on etymologies comes as an appendix.

In taking up the fate of Du Bourg and the revolutionary writings of La Boëtie, Jacques liberates himself from the self-imposed reading and analysis of jurists and writers whose thought sustaining absolutism went absolutely against the grain of his own humanistic and Protestant individualism and questioning of authority. A parlementaire, Du Bourg refused to conform to the new radical strictures placed on judges by Henry II and his councilors. There was a hardening of positions all through the 1550s on both the Catholic and the Protestant sides, and Du Bourg was actually more of an opponent of this doctrinal hardening than conforming to some specific Protestant doctrines. Eloquent, humane and self confident, Du Bourg became a martyr to the cause that would eventually be known as "toleration."

A graduate of the same university as Du Bourg, Étienne de la Boëtie wrote one of the most brilliant and revolutionary pamphlets ever written in Western Civilization. There is still a debate about how old he was when he wrote the Discours de la Servitude volontaire, but there has always been agreement that it is the most incisive and clearly argued analysis of how tyrants come to have power over a few, then over more, and then over millions. Humans give up their liberties; they knuckle down to become enslaved, perhaps not knowingly, but not exactly unconsciously either. La Boëtie's text is still doing its work, alerting peoples against the ways of tyrants!

Then Jacques brings in La Boëtie's great friend, Montaigne, who inherited his works and papers, and published some of them. He thought of including the Discours in the Essais, but then it appeared as a work supporting the Protestant cause. Jacques brings to bear on some possible influences on La Boëtie's thought, including Luther and Calvin; but his final purpose is to force readers to ponder the contradiction between the young author of the Discours and the mature La Boëtie, judge in the Parlement of Bordeaux, judging and condemning Protestants for their faith. The parallels with Du Bourg the martyr and the young libertarian turned into an instrument of tyranny, becomes for Jacques a touchstone toward modernity. This is my friend Jacques, the careful historian and humanist, searching for light at the back of the cave.

Jacques's last article in the book is on the fantastic etymologies and myths that largely scholars came up with about France, the French people, and France's illustrious culture and language. Did the French descend from the Trojans? There were false genealogies as well, as the learned sought to construct a "historical" illustrious past for the French that was equal, if not superior to the ancient Greeks and Romans. There are now many new books on the construction of the French national identity, but Jacques's work stands as a pioneering paradigm. Here a critique of the cocorico, chauvinist-French nationalist lies just below the surface.

Jacques was a quiet nationalist. He loved his country, including its weaknesses and mistakes that could not be pardoned, and certainly not forgotten. The true foundations for civic and moral action lay in understanding the experiences of the past. I stood with him in that beautiful wooded outcropping of boulders near Hospitalet (only a few kilometers from Vébron), a place of meetings and prayer for the Desert of the Cévénol Protestant faith. Jacques was silent. He know that we knew of the religious-historical site. Faith and memory, or to use a more formal term, history, lay in the synthesis of the Cévénol past and those communities that people it. For the first forty years of our friendship, Jacques scarcely ever talked about his call to resist, but then he began to recount how he and his fellow Cévénol resistants had carefully placed dynamite to blow up a trestle bridge of the French railways. The explosion did not occur, for some reason. But as the years after 2000 went by, we heard more stories about his companions and their often dangerous activities. I shall return to this theme later.

My doctoral exam was held on May 14, 1958. Professor Bowditch asked me about right-wing movements in France since 1815. I recited quite a few, but Bowditch wanted more. I finally realized that he wanted me to mention a two-star general who had announced, the previous day, that he was ready to assume the powers of the Republic. Another Boulanger? I answered categorically: No, de Gaulle would respect the Republic's traditions and powers.

In California, over lunch, or at the beach, my exchanges with Jacques over de Gaulle were very long and we were fundamentally in agreement. Politics are matters of choice, and given the crisis, there was no other civic choice but to turn to de Gaulle. What if he had not been there, waiting? The Pétain experience, the late experience, haunted Jacques: Why had France lost options again? Jacques had a penchant for asking questions for which there was no answer.

Were history and memory the same to Jacques? I do not think so. The venerable habit of taking in refugees had developed over the centuries in the Cévennes, a memory not discussed much by Cévénols, a memory that did not take pages to describe. Taking in Eastern-Europeans, largely Leftists, and often German refugees from the Spanish Civil War had certainly refreshed Cévénol memories just years before they took on the often dangerous sheltering of Jews in World War II. Habit and memory were historical, but not in the sense that the fate of France was historical, as Marc Bloch faced that question to be answered.

In the conferences that Jacques helped organize and in which he participated (on the French Revolution, 1989; and on Protestants in the Resistance, 1994), both published as special issues of the Bulletin de la Société de l'Histoire du Protestantisme français, his research, reflections and cooperation with other historians is of the highest. (There are thirty-four references to him in the volume on the Resistance, yet typical of his discretion, his name does not appear on the "Répertoire de Protestants dans la seconde guerre mondiale, p. 693!) We also find other works by Jacques cited by other historians, notably from Cévennes Terre de Refuge.

Jacques rarely mentioned his work as a civil servant. In New York City, he often had the duty to shepherd around eminent scientists, philosophers, film stars, and writers. Occasionally he added us to the guest list for grand cocktails, notably one in honor of Marc Chagall at the U.N. ambassador's apartment on Park Avenue. Jacques carried out these duties perfectly (his superior, Édouard Morot-Sir, always made compliments about Jacques to me), but he never really felt the need for extensive social glitter. He enjoyed reading, being with his family, and being alone.

Work on establishing an equivalence of professional degrees already had begun while he was in New York. It would occupy him much more in Paris, as degrees and certificates from all sorts, from probably more than a hundred countries, had to be interpreted according to the criteria of French schools and universities.

Upon retirement, Jacques tackled cataloging the hundreds of religious pamphlets and tracts in English that were in the library on the rue des Saints-Pères. Not just names and titles, but also some descriptive grids were necessary if readers were eventually to make use of these materials. Jacques did the necessary. Reduced vision probably impeded him from tackling yet another cataloging project.

An article appeared on Hotman's Francogallia and prompted Jacques, in 2006, to write a very courteous but somewhat feisty reply to the author, concerning the interpretation of Seyssel. Instead of public debate, Jacques addressed his remarks to the author in a letter. I include it here with the name and reference deleted. It reveals a remarkable continuity of judicious interpretations of texts. it is almost as if this letter had been written thirty or more years earlier:

Jacques POUJOL
10 rue Poussin Paris 75016
                                                                    Vébron, le 15 août 2006

En commençant cette lettre qui ne contient pas que des compliments à propos de votre article sur la Francogallia de François Hotman, je tiens à vous remercier chaleureusement pour le stimulant intellectuel inespéré que vous m'avez ainsi administré. Voici en effet presque un demi siècle que des circonstances de carrière ne me contraignent à abandonner complètement mes recherches sur Seyssel.

Comme vous l'avait fait vous-même dans votre article, je voudrais éviter d'entrer de but en blanc dans le vif de mon plaidoyer sur la substance des emprunts faits à Seyssel par Hotman. Je préfère donc vous exposer d'abord comment se posait autrefois (je veux dire à l'époque où je travaillais sous la direction de maîtres tels que R. Lebègue, G. Zeller, et V.L Saulnier) le problème de l'absolutisme. On savait déjà que le mot était piégé. Avant de m'attaquer à Seyssel, j'ai passé une année entière à réunir les éléments d'un mémoire intitulé "L'évolution et l'influence de l'idée absolutiste de 1498 à 1559." La période ainsi définie correspond à une intense fermentation des idées dans tous les domaines culminant avec le début des guerres de religion. Ce travail assez austère, pour ne pas dire rébarbatif," n'a jamais été édité. Il comportait des sondages dans plusieurs disciplines:

Dans le domaine du droit, je m'étais intéressé à la vogue du droit romain; à la gloire montante d'Alciat, à l'impact de certaines formules latins souvent citées, en tête desquelles vienait bien sûr celle dont dérive le mot "absolu": Princeps legibus solutus est, discutée à perte de vue par tous les légistes du XVIe siècle (y compris Hotman qui la fait figurer en filigrane dans la citation que vous faites de son Francgallia, p. 216, ligne 18 de votre article). Et il y en a d'autres comme Rex est imperator in regno suo qui concerne la souveraineté royale. En ce qui concerne la théologie, une multitude de commentaires s'échelonnent depuis les interprétations du rituel du sacre des Rois de France ou les théories du légiste Jean Ferrault à propos des "privilèges" octroyés à la royauté par le Pape, jusqu'aux exégèses variées faites du début du chapitre XIII de l'Épître de Paul aux Romains justifiant aussi bien l'origine divine du pouvoir des Rois que le droit sacré des sujets à "résister" aux ordres injustes.

Dans les écrits humanistes, j'avais inventorié à la fois le goût immodéré pour la flatterie à l'antique, la vogue du mythe des "Rois-philosophes" et des traités sur l'éducation des Princes, avant que n'advienne l'ère des déceptions illustrée par le traité De la Servitude volontaire de La Boëtie.

Tel est, dans ses grandes lignes, le baggage intellectuel à l'aide duquel je me suis aventuré dans mes commentaires sur la pensée politique de Claude de Seyssel. Étais-je aussi bien armé pour aborder l'étude des penseurs politiques de la seconde partie du XVIe siècle? Sans doute pas. En toute honnêteté, je dois reconnaître aujourd'hui que j'ai ét bien imprudent en prétendant voir dans les emprunts à Seyssel de l'édition 1586 de la Francogallia un tournant majeur de la pensée de François Hotman. Rétrospectivement, je vois là une erreur de jeunesse de ma verte trentaine. Tout fier d'avoir trouvé du Seyssel dans une édition postérieure - et c'était un petit exploit car il n'existait pas alors d'édition critique de la Francogallia - j'ai pris le mors aux dents, j'ai inventé un petit roman sur Matharel et écrit la bêtise que vous dénoncez justement. Je pourrais un peu ergoter sur certains points de votre dénonciation: ainsi je n'ai jamais prétendu que François Hotman n'avais jamais lu Seyssel avant 1573 mais simplement qu'il ne le citait pas dans sa première édition. Mais, passons ... Tout chercheur prend quelquefois le mors au dents! L'essentiel est dans l'hommage que je tiens à rendre à l'exactitude et la lucidité de votre analyse de la pensée de François Hotman monarchomaque.

Mais hélas! Il y a ce que vous ecrivez sur Seyssel à la fin de votre article, à partir de la page 215 dans le paragraphe intitulé "La question des lois fondamentales." En parcourant ce que vous écrivez sur les idées maîtresses de La Monarchie de France, le lecteur moyen ne peut manquer de se poser la question: Quelle mouche a-t-elle donc piqué Hotman pour emprunter de si longs passages à un auteur dont les idées étaient en complète contradiction avec les siennes? Vous semblez vous acharner à démontrer par vos commentaires qu'Hotman n'aurait jamais dû citer Seyssel à l'appui de ces thèses! Alors, comme je me sens un peu responsable des idées fausses que vous avez conçues injustement sur La Monarchie de France, permettez-moi d'abord, pour sortir des généralités, de parcourir ligne à ligne, votre texte sur les lois fondamentales en reprécisant le sens des mots et, lorsqu'ils font partie du vocabulaire de Seyssel, en les remplaçant dans leur contexte historique.

"thèse monarchiste": cette expression me semble singulièrement anachronique s'agissant de La Monarchie de France. Ne tombez-vous pas ici dans l'un des travers que vous dénoncez dans votre introduction?

"monarchie limitée": Seyssel n'emploie jamais cette expression. La notion de "limite" est applicable au champ de la souveraineté pour les juristes du XVIe siècle. En ce qui concerne l'exercice du pouvoir (préoccupation majeure de Seyssel), c'est la notion du "frein" qui prévaut. L'expression "monarchie modérée" me semble beaucoup mieux convenir à la pensée politique de Seyssel.

"idée de monarchie mixte": le modèle théorique d'"impérium mixtum" décrit par Aristote n'apparaît pas dans La Monarchie de France mais est développé dans une œuvre antérieure de Seyssel, le Prohème d'Appien (huit éditions entre 1544 et 1580). Certains auteurs comme Loys Le Roy ont amalgamé ces deux sources sans distinguer ce qui provenait du Prohème de ce qui venait de La Monarchie. J'aborde cette question complexe aux pages 48-49 de mon Introduciton et dans un Appendice (pp. 225-232) de mon édition critique de La Monarchie de France. Je ne sais pas si Hotman a consacré un développement à cette question. En tout cas je ne vois pas de lien direct entre "monarchie mixte" et "freins du pouvoir."

"les trois freins": puis-je préciser que ce mot de "frein" n'est pas employé par Seyssel dans le sens moderne qu'il a pris de ralentisseur pouvant conduire à l'arrêt complet d'un véhicule. "Frein" dans La Monarchie de France a le sens de "guide" ou de "rêne," de "bride" (d'un cheval) et le contexte évoque toujours l'idée de "diriger" et surtout de "régler." Parfois le mot "frein" est suivi du mot "retenail" qui suggère une idée de modération.

"Si l'on considère le premier frein ...": La mise hors jeu du frein de religion sous prétexte qu'au temps d'Hotman et des guerres de religion il ne pouvait être qu'inopérant me semble un peu simpliste. Si vous voulez connaître l'une des raisons pour lesquelles Hotman, tout protestant qu'il est, se sent à l'aise dans les écrits d'un prélat (évêque de Marseille, futur archevêque de Turin), je vous conseille de lire la seconde partie du chapitre sur le frein de religion dans lequel il expose comment fonctionne ce frein lorsque le Roi "fait quelque chose de tyrannique." Dans ce cas, (je cite textuellement) "il est loisible à un chacun prélat ou autre homme religieux bien vivant et ayant bon estime envers le peuple, le lui remontrer et l'incréper et à un simple précheur le reprendre et arguer publiquement et en sa barbe." L'affirmation vigoureuse par Seyssel de ce droit de "remontrance" (protestation), souvent revendiqué et appliqué par les Protestants s'inspirant du rôle des prophètes dans l'Ancien Testament, fait de lui sur ce point le précurseur d'une tradition dans laquelle s'illustrent Théodore de Bèze et bien d'autres. Mais il faut aussi lire le passage qui, toujours dans le chapitre sur le frein de religion, donne au Roi de France quelques conseils pratiques de caractère assez cynique qui l'apparentent à Machiavel. Après avoir rappelé qu'en matière de religion il ne fallait surtout pas provoquer "la colère et l'indignation du peuple," il ajoute: "cette couleur et apparence de religion et d'avoir Dieu de son côté a toujours donné grande faveur, obéissance et révérence à tous princes ..."

Hotman se garde bien de reproduire ce passage. Mais le conseil fut entendu plus tard par un certain roi de Navarre lorsqu'il voulut accéder au trône de France .... Paris valait bien une messe.

Laissons pour l'instant la Justice ...": votre "pour l'instant" m'avait donné un peu d'espoir de trouver plus loin un développement sur le frein de Justice. Mais non... Comme la religion, la justice est passée aux oubliettes. Dommage, car les développements sur ce thème dans La Monarchie... sont au cœur de la pensée politique de Claude de Seyssel. Dès la première phrase du chapitre X, il est rappelé que les Parlements ont été institutés "à cette fin de réfréner la puissance absolue dont voudraient user les Rois." Un long paragraphe est consacré à l'inamovibilité des Parlementaires. Si, sous Henri II, la royauté s'était conformée à ce principe, le Conseiller Du Bourg n'aurait jamais été condamné à mort. Je note à nouveau l'importance du passage de la Francogallia que vous citez et traduisez dans votre note 42 (ut legibus omnibus dici possint) avec cette simple remarque que les dites lois ne sont pas seulement les lois fondamentales mais toutes les lois, y compris celles qui déterminent la fonction de justice.

"on ne trouve pas de lois fondamentales énoncées comme telles chez Seyssel": il est exact que le terme de "lois fondamentales" ne se trouve pas chez Seyssel. Mais il est difficile de ne pas en voir l'équivalent au moins dans un cas précis: au début du chapitre XI "De la Police" dans ces "Ordonnances" concernant l'inaliénabilité des Biens de la Couronne. Les termes employés sont sans équivoque: quand les Princes entreprennent de déroger (à ces Ordonnances) "on n'obéit point à leurs mandements"! Mais vous avez raison de noter l'absence tonnante dans La Monarchie de France de toute allusion aux lois de succession au trône, ce qui a conduit certains éditeurs de cet ouvrage à lui ajouter de leur propre autorité un appendice sur "La loi salique." Il semble que Seyssel n'ait retenu parmi les lois fondamentales que celles qui avaient des retombées institutionnelles, par exemple, dans le cas de l'inaliénabilité du domaine royal. Seyssel attribue au Roi lui-même la paternité de l'Ordonnance, alors que dans le cas de la Justice et du Parlement, l'origine ou la paternité du système juridique ne sont jamais précisées. Les Lois s'imposent d'elles-mêmes.

J'arrête ici cette analyse critique de votre interprétation de la pensée politique de Seyssel en constatant que sur plusieurs points votre sévérité est peut-être excessive. Je vous propose maintenant une autre approche consistant à analyser successivement les différents passages sélectionnés par Hotman dans La Monarchie pour être intégrés dans la Francogallia.

Le premier emprunt est fait au chapitre XIII intitulé "des trois États du Peuple de France et comme ils sont bien réglés et entretenus." Contrairement à ce que l'on pouvait attendre, Seyssel ne se conforme pas au modèle classique de répartition, encore en usage en 1789: Clergé, Noblesse, Tiers État, mais propose le tiercé original: Noblesse, Peuple Gras, Peuple menu. C'est une aubaine pour Hotman car l'encombrant Clergé catholique disparaît du tableau sociologique du Royaume de France. la laïcité se profile-t-elle à l'horizon? Hotman se garde bien de préciser que le Clergé mis à la porte par Seyssel dans la première partie de La Monarchie revient en force par la fenêtre dans la section III (chapitres XII, XIII et XIV). Mais après tout, dans les controverses, tous les coups sont permis! Hotman précise sa manœuvre anticléricale en citant aussi le chapitre de Seyssel intitulé "De l'État de l'Église, comme il est commun aux autres trois" qui fait rentrer les ecclésiastiques dans le rang et précise même incidemment que l'on devrait revenir aux moyens traditionnels "de pourvoir aux dignités et autres bénéfices ecclesiastiques par élections et provisions ordinaires."

On peut aussi se demander si la distinction "peuple gras, peuple menu" ne satisfait pas Hotman pour des raisons socio-économiques. Il ne cherche pas à dissimuler sa préférence pour le peuple gras sur lequel repose la prospérité du Royaume et son instinctive méfiance envers un peuple menu prompt à se rebeller et à défier l'autorité royale. Alors? Hotman serait-il sensible aux accents pré-webériens de Seyssel? Et, en tout cas, se sentirait-il plus proche d'un milieu de marchands et artisans aisés, viver du protestantisme, que d'un prolétariat famélique, terrain d'élection de la Ligue?

Je passe rapidement sur l'intégration par Hotman à son texte de l'ensemble du chapitre intitulé "De la Police" puisque j'en ai déjà parlé plus haut. Je voudrais cependant souligner que l'inaliénabilité des "bien nationaux" (l'anachronisme est ici volontaire de ma part) est l'un des points les plus remarquables de l'identité de vues entre Seyssel et Hotman (le gouvernement de la France ferait bien d'en prendre de la graine à toutes les époques de son histoire!)

Mais comment ne pas souligner aussi l'importance du chapitre XXV des éditions postérieures de la Francogallia où, sans citer textuellement La Monarchie..., Hotman décrit une puissance royale encadrée par des lois précises qu'il est impossible au Roi de transgresser. C'est vraiment là que se révèle le plus clairement le véritable front commun de Seyssel et d'Hotman contre l'absolutisme, l'un par ce qu'il en perçoit, grâce à son expérience, les signes annonciateurs dès 1515 et la fin morose du règne de Louis XII, l'autre parce qu'il a pris la mesure de ses effets dévastateurs aux cours des années suivant la Saint-Barthélemy.

Enfin on retrouve dans la Francogallia, cité intégralement par Hotman, le chapitre qui est peut-être le plus court de La Monarchie de France mais qui, à mon avis pèse le plus lourd en faveur du dossier de défense de l'identité de vues entre les deux auteurs. C'est le chapitre XI de la Deuxième partie intitulé par Seyssel: "Comment il (le Roi) doit entretenir les trois freins par lesquels sa puissance absolue est réglée." En quelques lignes, Seyssel reprend l'opposition si souvent invoquée dans l'antiquité entre "roi" et "tyran" et il conclut sur cette phrase: "Dès qu'il (le Roi) se dévoie desdites trois limites (les freins) et veut user de volonté désordonnée, il est tenu et réputé mauvais, tyran, cruel et intolérable: dont il acquiert la haine de Dieu et de ses sujets."

Qu'elle est belle et émouvante cette rencontre improbable, au nom de la lutte contre la tyrannie, entre un prélat de cour blasé et pénétré de sentiment des misères inhérentes au monde politique et un révolté cherchant dans ce même monde politique les traces incertaines d'un système idéal, d'un "concilium" virtuel d'où pourraient sortir de non moins idéales "lois-pactes" et une République parfaite!

Veuillez excuser cette long épître qui ne visait qu'à réhabiliter à vos yeux un auteur à qui je suis resté attaché et à compléter mon mea culpa par une critique rigoureuse de lignes que vous avez peut-être un peu rapidement rédigées.

My remarks here are becoming too lengthy for any contemporary reader, but I cannot close without two revealing anecdotes.

During our last visit to Vébron before Jacques died, we returned from lunch to the main place publique of the village. Stopping near the entrance to the château that is his sister's, Jacques was having difficulty getting out of our little car. Two men in the nearby café creakily jumped to their feet and came over to help, before I could get out and do it myself. A respected, beloved neighbor was coming home where he belonged more than any place in the world. There was a tear in the eye of the older neighbor, no doubt from remembrance of seeing Jacques climb and jump through the maquis decades earlier.

Jacques's father died while on a walk in the Tuileries gardens. We never discussed death; there was always a sense of profound Protestant reciprocity between us. He took pride in his family names — Poujol, so of the earth, Caladon, so southern aristocratic.

In our 2012 visit to Vébron, Jocelyne took us into the salon. The elegant Louis XV clock was not running, but then I had never seen it run. On the piano was an enlarged photo of Jacques. It surprised me by its strength. There he was, standing alone, with sunglasses, in a big heavy knit sweater, an aging lion in majesty, conveying a sense of both strength and bodily fragility.

What a joy for me to have known him, and to always remember him.

Orest Ranum