Liberty, Equality, Fraternity

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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…

In these remonstrances, the magistrates of the Parlement of Paris,recently restored to their position by Louis XVI after having been "exiled" from office by Louis XV in 1771, voice their opposition to reforms proposed by the finance minister,…

François–Marie Arouet, who wrote under the name Voltaire, was both the best–known and most tireless advocate of the Enlightenment and also a close associate of several European kings and many French aristocrats. In his widely read history, The…

Jacob–Nicolas Moreau wrote his "lessons of morality, politics and law" for the instruction of the Dauphin. Throughout the 200–page book, Moreau defends the power of the King to rule France without opposition. In this passage, he emphasized that…

In 1783 Charles Alexandre de Calonne, a provincial noble, became royal finance minister. At first, he, like Vergennes, saw no need to rationalize the royal treasury or to appease the Parlements. By 1786, however, the deficit had become so…

Simon–Henri Linguet was one of the most active and irascible old regime figures. Among his many careers, he was a lawyer (who was disbarred in 1775) and a journalist (who was forced to give up his newspaper and flee to England in 1776). Throughout…

In the 1780s, following the fall of the reform–minded Turgot and Necker ministries, traditionalists felt certain that they had seen the last of the crass, pro–commerce ideas that these men and their supporters had promoted. In this pamphlet,…

King John of England granted the Magna Carta ("the great charter") on 15 June 1215. Leading nobles had demanded confirmation of their liberties and had threatened war if their demands were not met. The King agreed not to confiscate his subjects’…

In 1628, the position of Charles I of England had gone from bad to worse. Rash enterprises, lavish and illegal expenditure, and broken promises of better government had almost ruptured relations between the monarch and his subjects. The King offered…

In response to policies that threatened to restore Catholicism in England, Parliament deposed King James II and called William of Orange from the Dutch Republic and his wife Mary, who was James’s Protestant daughter, to replace him. William and…
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