Liberty, Equality, Fraternity

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During the course of his trial, Damiens was interrogated over fifty times by the magistrates of the Parlement of Paris and by the King’s prosecutors. The interrogators were concerned above all to determine if Damiens had accomplices and if so, what…

After a three–month trial, the magistrates found Damiens guilty of parricide against the person of the King on 26 March 1757. In a final interrogation, Damiens is once again asked about accomplices. He then denies having them.

Having found Damiens guilty, the judges ordered him punished in a gruesome public spectacle, with the intention of repressing symbolically, through his body, the threat to order that the judges perceived in his attack on the King. Such punishment,…

In 1713, the Pope had issued a bull entitled Unigenitus, condemning as heretical 101 beliefs held by some French Catholic priests who were known as "Jansenists." To Jansenists, this bull, or "constitution," was the religious equivalent of…

In June 1749, the priest of the St.–Etienne–du–Mont parish in Paris, acting on instructions from the Archbishop of Paris, refused the Eucharist and last rites to one of his parishioners who could not produce a "certificate of confession"…

As the controversy over the refusal of sacraments came to dominate political and religious discussions in Paris, Versailles, and across the kingdom, the magistrates argued all the more strenuously that the King should compel the Archbishop to drop…

Later in the 1750s, the Parlement turned its attention from religious controversy to royal fiscal policy. With the outbreak of yet another war—the Seven Years’ (or French and Indian) War against Britain—the royal treasury needed even more…

In 1763, with the Seven Years’ War having gone badly for France and the treasury facing ever greater shortfalls, the crown issued a series of new edicts on fiscal matters, necessary in large measure to pay off the war debts, which would extend the…

Louis–Adrien Le Paige was the leading theoretician of Parlementary claims against the crown in the 1750s. His Historical Letters on the Essential Functions of the Parlement (1753) traced the history of the parlements from what he claimed to be…

The Court of Aides was a special chamber of the Parlement of Paris dealing with taxation. It, too, could issue "remonstrances" to protest against royal edicts that it opposed. In this remonstrance, the Court of Aides protests against reforms proposed…
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