The French Revolution and Napoleon: A Sourcebook

By Philip G. Dwyer; Peter McPhee | Go to book overview

1

THE ANCIEN RÉGIME CHALLENGED

Lamoignon on the principles of the French monarchy, 19 November 1787

This extract is from a speech delivered by Chrétien-François de Lamoignon (1735-89), Garde des sceaux, at a royal sitting of the Parlement of Paris, on 19 November 1787. The Garde des sceaux, literally 'keeper of the seals', was the Minister of Justice. Earlier in 1787 an Assembly of Notables and the Parlement of Paris had rebuffed ministerial appeals for reform and financial assistance to the State. Lamoignon, a leading Notable and former president of the Parlement, here reminds his peers of Louis XVI's pre-eminence by dismissing their call for a meeting of the Estates-General in return for approval of a loan. The following May Lamoignon issued six edicts aimed at undermining the judicial and political power of the Parlements, provoking rioting in Paris and provincial centres. In July Louis decided that he would, after all, convoke an Estates-General in May 1789, and Lamoignon was dismissed.

These principles, universally accepted by the nation, prove:

that sovereign power in his kingdom belongs to the king alone;

that he is accountable only to God for the exercise of supreme power; that the link that unites the king and the nation is by nature indissoluble; that the reciprocal interests and duties of the king and his subjects ensure the perpetuity of this union; that the nation has a vested interest that the rights of its ruler remain unchanged; that the king is the sovereign ruler of the nation, and is one with it; finally that legislative power resides in the person of the sovereign, depending upon and sharing with no-one.

These, sirs, are the invariable principles of the French monarchy….

-1-

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The French Revolution and Napoleon: A Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations xi
  • Preface xiii
  • A Note on the Revolutionary Calendar xv
  • Chronology xvi
  • 1 - The Ancien Régime Challenged 1
  • 2 - Revolutionary Action 16
  • 3 - Creating a Regenerated France 24
  • 4 - Exclusions and Inclusions 35
  • 5 - The Church and the Revolutionary State 43
  • 6 - Monarchy and Revolution 51
  • 7 - The Revolution at War 60
  • 8 - The End of the Monarchy 68
  • 9 - The Peasantry and the Rural Environment 80
  • 10 - A New Civic Culture 84
  • 11 - The Republic at War 90
  • 12 - Revolt in the Vendée 97
  • 13 - The Terror at Work 103
  • 14 - The Thermidorian Reaction 115
  • 15 - The Directory 121
  • 16 - Bonaparte 128
  • 17 - Law and Order 140
  • 18 - Rule by Plebiscite 149
  • 19 - Governing the Empire 155
  • 20 - Resistance and Repression 169
  • 21 - The Russian Catastrophe 175
  • 22 - Collapse 187
  • 23 - The Hundred Days 193
  • 24 - French Men and Women Reflect 202
  • Index 209
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