Lamoignon de Malesherbes: Defender and Reformer of the French Monarchy, 1721-1794

Lamoignon de Malesherbes: Defender and Reformer of the French Monarchy, 1721-1794

Lamoignon de Malesherbes: Defender and Reformer of the French Monarchy, 1721-1794

Lamoignon de Malesherbes: Defender and Reformer of the French Monarchy, 1721-1794

Excerpt

Malesherbes was not the foremost figure in France during the period immediately preceding the Revolution, but his career is significant as representative of an important class, the noblesse de robe, which played its part in preparing the way for the tragedy. In many ways, Malesherbes was a prophet of the Revolution. A liberal, he aided the philosophical movement in France, he assisted Turgot in trying to stem the tide of disaster, and he counseled the King. But his advice, although kindly received, was not followed. In the end, he returned from retirement and offered himself as one of the King's defenders. Ably he defended a hopeless cause, only a year later to pay the penalty of his loyalty at the guillotine.

I am deeply indebted to the family of Tocqueville, the collateral descendants of the distinguished critic of American democracy, for their consideration and courtesy in placing at my disposal their entire collection of unpublished materials concerning their ancestor, Malesherbes. They have also taken the trouble to put me in touch with other documents relative to my subject. Without their friendly interest and encouragement it would have been impossible to complete this study. I regret to state that I

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